Medical Malpractice, Cognitive Deficits, Seizure Disorder, Hydrocephalus, Deficits in Language Comprehension, Visuospatial Processing, Verbal Memory, Motor and Speech Delays
Injuries: Cognitive Deficits, Cognitive Deficits, Seizure Disorder, Hydrocephalus, Deficits in Language Comprehension, Visuospatial Processing, Verbal Memory, Motor and Speech Delays
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on February 24, 2006 at Defendant Hospital Westchester Medical Center at 38 weeks gestation via emergency caesarian section. He weighed 7 lbs 7 oz at birth.
Plaintiff mother was diagnosed with asymptomatic cholelithiasis (gallstones) at 23 weeks and with a urinary tract infection (UTI) at 31 weeks. No prenatal surgery, significant injuries or other illnesses were reported; plaintiff mother did not experience high blood pressure, protein in her urine, or blood changes, and she tested negative for Group B streptococcus (GBS). Fetal ultrasound examinations performed at 21 and 23 weeks were unremarkable.
On February 1, plaintiff mother had an amniocentesis done, which she was told came back normal. However, on the following day (February 2), defendant hospital called and said that, because of her asymptomatic cholelithiasis, she needed to return to the hospital on the following day so that they could induce labor.
On February 3, 2006, at around 8 a.m., plaintiff mother arrived at defendant hospital. A couple of hours later, she was put into an observation room. For the next four hours, hospital staff ran a number of tests and continued to monitor plaintiff mother. At around 2 p.m., she was given Pitocin.
Shortly thereafter, plaintiff mother began to experience mild contractions. However, as the day progressed, they did not get any stronger. By 5:00 p.m. the next day, plaintiff mother was still in labor. A fetal heart monitor revealed the baby was experiencing a non-reassuring pattern of variable decelerations in heart rate. A doctor told plaintiff mother that the baby’s head was visible, but that it was unable to come out, and that she needed to continue pushing. Plaintiff father (who was in the room) recalls that at this point, a doctor attempted to pull the baby out with forceps but was unsuccessful. It was soon decided that an emergency caesarian section was necessary.
Less than two hours later, infant plaintiff was born. Immediately after birth, he appeared floppy, with poor color and tone, and with no respiratory effort. He was administered bag and mask ventilation followed by oxygen in the operating room, after which his color and respiration were noted to improve. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the regular nursery.
Infant plaintiff was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit the following day after he was observed to have severe scalp swelling and cephalhematoma. An initial CT scan revealed extensive subarachnoid and parenchyma hemorrhage, intraventricular hemorrhage, subdural hematomas, and evidence of left and temporal and parietal skull fractures believed to be secondary to forceps trauma. An MRI scan performed three days later revealed bilateral frontal and temporal lobe contusions, as well as cerebellar tonsillar herniation. After receiving four days of phototherapy, infant plaintiff was discharged from the NICU to his parents at five days of age.
When he was four months old, he experienced two seizures. Two and a half months later, he had two more seizures during sleep. Since that time, he has been prescribed Phenobarbital, tegretol, and trileptal. A CT scan performed around the time of the second set of seizures indicated mild communicating hydrocephalus and external hydrocephalus.
Currently, infant plaintiff has severe deficits in his ability to control his attention, not be distracted by extraneous stimuli and to control his cognitive and motor performance. He has deficits in language comprehension, hand and finger movements, visuospatial processing, the ability to copy a design and narrative and verbal memory. He requires counseling, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy. He requires counseling, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and evaluations by a child psychiatrist.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Westchester County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to diagnose fetal distress during labor, failing to deliver infant plaintiff sooner, and improper use of forceps during delivery, all of which resulted in multiple cerebral intracranial and subdural and intraventricular hemorrhages, which in turn resulted in infant plaintiff’s seizure disorder and current cognitive, social, and behavioral impairments. Ultimately, Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald settled with defendant for a total of $250,000.00.