Multi-million-dollar recovery for baby suffering brain damage during labor and delivery

The delivery of a child is usually one of the most joyous and momentous occasions in any
person’s life. However, as the baby makes that miraculous journey through the birth canal
during labor, there are risks for serious injury that can occur if the doctors overseeing the labor
are not paying close attention. In this case, in the latter stages of labor, the baby started to give
warning signs that it was in distress due to a lack of oxygen. The obstetrician overseeing the
labor should have reacted to these warning signs and “rescued” the baby by performing an
emergency C-section, but that did not happen. As a result, the prolonged oxygen deprivation led
to permanent brain damage.

Virtually every mother who is going through labor in the United States is attached a machine that
monitors the fetal heart rate of the baby because the fetal heart rate is the best indicator of
whether the baby is receiving adequate oxygen supply throughout its journey, particularly during
the final and most stressful phases of labor. One of the most common drugs used during labor is
Pitocin, a medication designed to stimulate uterine contractions and advance the progress of
labor. Indeed, Pitocin has helped many mothers’ whose labor was otherwise stalled by slowed
contractions. However, Pitocin is designated as a “high risk” medication because if it is not used
properly, it can over stimulate the uterus and cause too many contractions, a condition known as
hypersystole. If the uterus is contracting too rapidly, that activity can compress the arteries that
are providing blood and oxygen supply to the baby.

In this case, our client, an expectant mother in her late 20s, had a long labor which was
augmented by substantial doses of Pitocin. Several times throughout the labor when the Pitocin
was increased, the baby’s heart rate dropped suddenly in what are referred to as “decelerations.”
Each time these significant decelerations occurred, the baby had to be “resuscitated” by
administering oxygen and fluid to the mother and changing her position. Despite having to
“resuscitate” the baby five or six times throughout labor, the obstetrician in charge failed to
appreciate the cumulative impact of all of those decelerations. We had the medical records
reviewed by a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, and he said that after several of those
episodes of fetal distress, the obstetrician in charge should have rescued the baby by performing
an emergency C-section.

In addition to those episodes of fetal distress, there were other periods of time during the later
stages of labor when the equipment monitoring the baby’s heart rate was either removed or not
working properly such that the doctor did not know if the baby was getting enough oxygen. That
only made the situation more urgent and more compelling for an emergency C-section.

Unfortunately, the baby was never “rescued” and, instead, was delivered via a vaginal delivery.
Immediately upon delivery, it was obvious that the newborn was in dire condition, i.e., he was
not moving or breathing, and he was cyanotic. An emergency resuscitation team was immediately summoned to the delivery room to try to revive the baby with artificial breathing,
oxygen, fluids, and other urgent measures. Ultimately, the baby did survive, but he was left with
permanent brain damage due to the prolonged period of fetal distress and low oxygen supply
during labor. Our medical experts said that this devastating outcome could have been avoided if
the obstetrician in charge had ”rescued” the baby via C-section during the early stages of fetal

As a result of the brain injury, the newborn was rendered a spastic quadriplegic, i.e., he had
virtually no function of his arms or legs, could not walk, could not talk; his vision was severely
impaired, and he had only limited cognitive ability. Catastrophic injuries such as spastic
quadriplegia are a devastating reality for parents to experience, particularly when they are
anticipating nothing but joy in association with the birth of their child. After the reality of the
child’s plight sets in, the attention of the parents and family turns to the lifelong implications of
raising a brain-injured child. In cases of this sort, we typically hire experts known as life care
planners who can describe the special equipment, services, medication, and support that the child
will need throughout their life and what the projected cost of all of that will be. Beyond all of
those costs, our damage claim in a case involving a brain-damaged baby includes compensation
for the child’s loss of all of the ordinary pleasures of life, i.e., the ability to grow up like a normal
child, go to school, associate with others, and eventually progress to a productive life as an adult.
Our claim also included the impact on the parents and their loss of the companionship and
services they otherwise would have enjoyed if their baby had not suffered a devastating brain