Medical Malpractice, Shoulder Dysplasia, Erb’s Palsy, Cognitive Delays
Injuries: Shoulder Dysplasia, Erb’s Palsy, Cognitive Delays
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on October 6, 2004 at Defendant Hospital Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center via vaginal delivery. She weighed 9 lbs 4 oz at birth.
About a month before delivery, plaintiff mother went to a prenatal visit and was told to expect a “very big” baby, one “well over” 7 lbs.
On the day of delivery, plaintiff mother, during another prenatal visit, was informed by her obstetrician that she was in labor. However, she was only 2 or 3 cm dilated, so she was instructed to “walk around for awhile” and return in a couple of hours. Eventually, she returned and was placed in an observation room with a fetal heart monitor placed on her stomach.
At around 1:45 a.m., plaintiff mother was given an epidural. Shortly thereafter, labor was induced with Pitocin. About two hours before the birth of the baby, a doctor came in and performed a sonogram, which revealed that the baby was well over 7.5 lbs. Plaintiff mother recalls this worrying her greatly, and she asked if she could deliver via caesarian section. She was told that she would deliver normally (vaginally), and that a caesarian section would be performed only in the case of an emergency.
Shortly after this conversation, she was informed that she was 8 cm dilated, and that she needed to start pushing. She tried for two hours, but to no avail. Although some of the baby’s head appeared, at no point was the entire head able to get free. Eventually, the doctor cut two episiotomies, and pulled the baby out. Plaintiff mother recalls that the baby was blue, listless and floppy, and appeared to be gasping for air. Eventually, hospital staff rushed the baby away to the NICU.
Later that day, at around 10 p.m., doctors from the NICU came to plaintiff mother’s room and asked her to give her consent to their performing a lumbar puncture on the baby. They informed her that they suspected the baby had an infection. Plaintiff mother agreed, and the doctors left.
A little while later, plaintiff mother went to the NICU to see her baby. She noticed that the baby’s right arm was mottled black and blue with bruises, and appeared to be limp. A doctor talked to plaintiff mother about “Erb’s palsy,” and informed her that it was an injury that sometimes happened during labor when the baby was too big. The doctor also informed her that the baby also had been in respiratory distress, and that she would need to remain in the NICU so that they could figure out the source of the respiratory distress.
Eventually, all the tests came back negative, and plaintiff mother and the baby were discharged on October 15.
By the time the baby reached a year old, she was able to grab things with her right hand; however, her upper right side of her body still remained relatively weak. She currently receives both occupational and physical therapy. She was also diagnosed with cognitive delays; specifically, she has delays in speech and language, as well as motor and fine motor delays.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Bronx County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant staff and defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to properly estimate infant plaintiff’s gestational weight, failing to recognize prenatally that plaintiff mother’s pelvis would be inadequate to allow safe delivery of infant plaintiff’s shoulders, failing to heed and avoid fetal distress and respiratory distress, failing to perform maneuvers in a safe, prompt, and timely manner, and failing to timely and properly perform an episiotomy, and that these failures resulted in permanent injuries to infant plaintiff, including shoulder dysplasia, Erb’s palsy, and cognitive delays. Ultimately, Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald settled with defendants for a total of $250,000.00.