Medical Malpractice, Blindness, Developmental Delays, Mental Retardation, Spastic Diplegia, Behavioral Dysfunction
Injuries: Developmental Delays, Mental Retardation, Spastic Diplegia, Behavioral Dysfunction
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on November 19, 2001 at Defendant Hospital Beth Israel Hospital at 24 weeks gestation via emergency caesarian section. He weighed 1 lb 6 oz at birth.
On November 18, 2001, plaintiff was in her 24th week of pregnancy when, at around 11:30 p.m., she began having mild contractions. She called defendant OB/GYN and informed him that she was having mild contractions. Defendant OB/GYN told her to go to defendant hospital and wait for him, so that he could examine her and make sure that everything was alright. Plaintiff mother then took a taxi to defendant hospital.
At around 1:00 a.m., plaintiff mother was admitted to defendant hospital and put into an observation room, where a fetal heart rate monitor was placed on her stomach. Defendant OB/GYN had not yet arrived, so several resident doctors took turns examining her. However, plaintiff mother was not given anything to stop her contractions.
Five hours later, at 6:00 a.m., defendant OB/GYN finally arrived. He examined plaintiff mother, told her that she was 4 to 5 centimeters dilated, and gave her magnesium sulfate to stop her contractions. However, defendant OB/GYN was informed that her water had already broken, and that as a result she was already ready to deliver. Defendant OB/GYN examined plaintiff mother again, and told her that the fetus had turned and that an emergency caesarian section was now necessary.
Less than two hours later, infant plaintiff was born. He weighed 1 lb 6 oz. Immediately after birth, he was intubated and rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Ten days later, plaintiff mother and plaintiff father were informed that tests had revealed bleeding in the baby’s brain. Plaintiff mother and plaintiff father requested that the baby be transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Once there, hospital staff ran a number of tests, and told plaintiff mother and plaintiff father that although the baby was very small and very sick and “might not make it,” they could not detect any bleeding in the baby’s brain.
At two weeks old, infant plaintiff was diagnosed with Patent Ductus Arteriossus (PDA), a persistent opening between two major blood vessels leading from the heart, and underwent surgery. Later, hospital staff informed plaintiff mother and plaintiff father that infant plaintiff’s retinas had failed to fully develop, and that laser surgery was needed. Plaintiff mother and plaintiff father agreed, and the surgery was performed. On March 5, 2002, infant plaintiff was finally released from New York-Presbyterian.
At seventeen weeks old, infant plaintiff was taken back to New York-Presbyterian for a check-up. After examining infant plaintiff, a retina specialist informed plaintiff mother that both of the baby’s retinas had detached, and that an immediate emergency surgery was needed. A couple of days later, the surgery was performed, but it was unsuccessful. A couple of weeks later, another surgery was performed, and this one succeeded in re-attaching infant plaintiff’s left retina; however, it was not successful in re-attaching the right.
Ultimately, infant plaintiff was declared legally blind and diagnosed with developmental delays, mental retardation, and behavioral dysfunction. He walks with assistance, but does not have a normal heel-toe stride, as he has mild spastic diplegia with some shortening of the heel cord. He requires assistance for activities of daily living, and, as his deficits are permanent, will require custodial care for the rest of his life.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Southern District United States District Court, arguing that defendant OB/GYN, defendant staff, and defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to timely diagnose and treat plaintiff mother’s preterm labor, failing to timely administer maternal corticosteroids, and failing to re-intubate infant plaintiff on the morning of November 28, 2011 in light of infant plaintiff’s worsening arterial blood gas levels, and that these failures resulted in severe and permanent injuries to infant plaintiff. Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald ultimately settled with defendants for a total of $350,000.00, including payment for past pain and suffering, loss of wages, non-medical damages, and future medical costs.