Injuries: Spastic Quadriparesis, Global Developmental Delay
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on October 10, 1995 at Defendant Hospital Our Lady of Mercy Hospital at 31 weeks gestation via vaginal delivery. He weighed 2 lbs 13 oz at birth.
Prior to giving birth, plaintiff mother had an uneventful pregnancy. She had no prenatal surgery, significant injuries or other illnesses; nor did she have blood changes. She also tested negative for Group B streptococcus (GBS) and urinary tract infection (UTI).
On October 3 at around 3:30 a.m., plaintiff mother was at home when her water broke. She woke her husband, and the two arrived at defendant hospital at around 4:00 a.m. Plaintiff mother was put into a room and examined, and a fetal heart monitor was placed on her stomach. Plaintiff mother recalls that although her water had broken, she was not experiencing any labor pains or contractions at this time. Hospital staff continued to monitor plaintiff mother throughout the night.
Over the next couple of days, hospital staff noted subtle, late decelerations on the fetal heart rate monitor. It was decided that they would continue to monitor plaintiff mother, and that if the baby could not tolerate labor, they would deliver via caesarian section. Hospital staff also administered Pitocin.
Days later, on October 9, plaintiff mother began experiencing severe labor pains.
The next day, hospital staff was preparing to transfer plaintiff mother to labor and delivery. They placed her on a gurney and began to wheel her out of the room. Plaintiff mother recalls trying to get some of the hospital staff’s attention, as she felt as though the baby was already coming. When she finally managed to get someone’s attention, one of the hospital staff lifted the blanket draped over plaintiff mother and saw that the baby was crowning. Hospital staff called for the doctor, who came shortly thereafter and delivered infant plaintiff on the gurney.
Infant plaintiff’s Apgar scores were 8 and 9 at 1 and 5 minutes, respectively. However, because he was premature, he was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Sepsis was ruled out, although he remained on phototherapy and continued on phototherapy for two more weeks, as he was diagnosed with neonatal jaundice.
Infant plaintiff continued to make progress until November 2. Hospital staff noted that he was exhibiting symptoms of an apneic episode – bradycardia, pallor, and oxygen desaturation. The next day, on November 3, infant plaintiff “crashed,” although he was ultimately resuscitated by hospital staff.
Ultimately, infant plaintiff was diagnosed with cerebral dysfunction, principally in areas of cognition, communication, coordination, and balance.
Currently, infant plaintiff can dress himself with assistance. He requires help feeding himself. He attends school, but is in a special class for children with pervasive developmental disorders. He receives physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy at school. His speech is hard to understand, and his fine coordination is poor. He functions on a retarded level. He requires supervision from others and special education through his schooling. He will not achieve a high school equivalency certification. It is unlikely that he will have the capability to be commercially employable.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Bronx County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to timely treat preterm labor (PTL); failing to timely deliver via caesarian section in light of evidence of fetal distress; failing to properly monitor and manage neonatal care, specifically on 11/02/1995 when hospital staff noticed that infant plaintiff was lethargic; and failing to timely intubate infant plaintiff on 11/02/1995. Ultimately, Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald settled with defendant for a total of $200,000.00.