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Nursing Negligence Wrongful Death Case Result

A significant six-figure recovery for the parents of a stillborn baby girl.

The pregnant mother reported to the hospital at 39 weeks' gestation. It appeared that she was going into labor and fetal monitoring was started on the mother and the fetus. Over the course of three or four hours, however, the fetal monitoring equipment showed that the baby in the uterus was "in distress," but this was not noticed by the nursing staff and/or reported to the doctor. Sadly, when the child was delivered a few hours later, she was stillborn.

Electronic fetal monitoring is an important part of the care of any woman who is in labor or about to go into labor. The equipment involves a belt that is placed around the mother's stomach, which has sensing devices that will record the contractions of the mother and the baby's heart beat. The baby's heart rate and how it responds to contractions of the mother are important indicators of the well-being of the fetus. If the heart rate begins to appear to be abnormal, the baby is said to be in "fetal distress," and at that point important decisions have to be made by the doctor. For example, is the fetal distress simply mild and can be successfully treated with just a change in position of the mother or the administration of oxygen, etc? Or, is the distress more severe, in which case it is mandatory that the baby be delivered immediately through cesarean section. This is the critical decision for the doctor, and it is one that needs to be made promptly because if the fetal distress is an indication that there is an interruption in the baby's oxygen supply, then the longer that condition goes on, the more harm the child can suffer. Fetal distress can cause death to the fetus, but even if they survive they are often left with devastating injuries such as quadriplegia if the lack of oxygen supply lasted too long.

In this particular case, when the fetal distress occurred, the nursing staff and her doctor did not respond appropriately, and the distress went on so long that the baby died in utero.


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