MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – BIRTH TRAUMA – PREMATURE INFANT PERIVENTRICULAR LEUKOMALACIA AND CEREBRAL PALSY
Settlement: $15,000,000 against Edward Wright, M.D. (Unanimous 6/0).
Breakdown: $1,000,000 for past pain and suffering; $2,500,000 for future pain and suffering; $3,000,000 for medical expenses and equipment; $5,000,000 for custodial attendant care; $3,000,000 for physical and occupational therapy; $500,000 for impairment of earning ability.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia
- Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy
At the time of trial, the plaintiff attended regular school. She ambulated with a four-legged walker and had an attendant in school. Her feet were completely inverted and she had twice undergone surgical tendon lengthenings. Her condition was permanent.
The infant plaintiff’s mother was admitted to Winthrop University Hospital with labor pains at 28 weeks gestation. Dr. Edward Wright, her private obstetrician, administered magnesium sulfate, a tocoloytic that stopped her contractions.
At 11 AM the next day, her membranes ruptured. The tocolytics were stopped and labor was allowed to progress. At 5 AM the next day, plaintiff’s mother was transferred to labor room 2 at 2 cm dilated. Labor room 2 did not have resuscitative equipment. At 6:55 Am, Dr. Wright found plaintiff’s mother to be at zero station and 8 cm dilated. At 7:15 AM he found her to be fully dilated, and he told her to push slightly. The infant plaintiff was delivered at 7:23 AM. She weighed 2 lbs., 10 oz., and was born with no spontaneous respiration. Immediately after delivery, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was called and personnel went to the labor room with a transport incubator equipped with an ambubag and mask. The infant was masked and bagged while on the way to NICU, and was intubated in the NICU. Hospital records stated that the baby was intubated within 3 minutes of life, but plaintiff’s mother contested this timing. Apgar scores were 4 at 1 minute and 7 at 5 minutes. Plaintiff’s mother disputed the timing of the scores and the accuracy of the 5-minute Apgar. The infant plaintiff developed central cyanosis before she was intubated. She was eventually diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
The Fitzgerald Law Firm experts contended that it was obstetrician malptactice to deliver the child in a labor room that was not equipped and staffed to resuscitate a premature infant. They testified that this departure resulted in a delay of effective ventilation and hypoxia, and that the hypoxia, superimposed on the child’s prematurity, resulted in birth injuries, including periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy.