Medical Malpractice, Erb’s Palsy
Injuries: Erb’s Palsy
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on March 11, 2006 at Defendant Hospital St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center via vaginal delivery. He weighed 9 lbs 4 oz at birth.
Prior to giving birth, plaintiff mother had an uneventful pregnancy – no high blood pressure, protein in her urine, or blood changes. She did not have pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or gestational diabetes, and tested negative for Group B streptococcus and urinary tract infection.
A couple of months before infant plaintiff was due, in January of 2006, plaintiff mother went to a prenatal appointment at defendant hospital and informed the midwife that she was experiencing light contractions. The midwife examined her and informed her that she was 3 cm dilated, but that that was “normal” and that everything was fine.
About two months later, on March 10, plaintiff mother had an appointment for a sonogram. The sonogram revealed that she had very low amniotic fluid, and the technician told plaintiff mother that labor would have to be induced. Plaintiff mother agreed, and at around 7 p.m. was placed into an observation room with a fetal heart monitor placed on her stomach. Hospital staff continued to monitor her, but plaintiff mother recalls that she did not experience any contractions at this time.
At around midnight, plaintiff mother was administered Pitocin. About an hour and a half later, at 1:30 a.m., she began experiencing strong contractions. A couple of hours later, at 3:45 a.m., she was given an epidural. She continued to experience strong contractions, and hospital staff continued to monitor her. By 7:45 a.m., however, nothing had happened, so defendant doctor was called in, with around six other doctors. Defendant doctor examined plaintiff mother and informed her that she was about 7 cm dilated, and then left the room. At around 11:30 a.m., she returned and examined her again. This time, she told her that she was 10 cm dilated, and that she needed to start pushing. She complied, and soon the baby’s head appeared; however, plaintiff mother recalls it getting “stuck” at one point, and not moving any further. Defendant doctor told a nearby nurse to call for another doctor. In the meantime, she urged plaintiff mother to push. Finally, plaintiff mother gave one last hard push, and the doctor pulled the baby out by its neck. Plaintiff mother recalls that immediately after birth, infant plaintiff was blue and listless, and did not cry until after he was suctioned and dried. He was then taken to the regular nursery.
Hours later, at around 3 p.m., the baby was brought to plaintiff mother. Plaintiff mother recalls noticing that the baby could only move his right arm, hand, and fingers; he could not move his left. Plaintiff mother asked a doctor who was present why the baby could not move his left arm, and the doctor said that they were in the process of figuring that out, although they suspected that the baby might have Erb’s palsy. The doctor further explained that sometimes when a baby is larger than normal, labor is difficult and sometimes results in Erb’s palsy. The doctor said that they would know more once they did an MRI and head ultrasound.
About three hours later, at 6 p.m., another doctor informed plantiff mother that the baby did indeed have Erb’s palsy, and explained to her how to care for her baby. Plaintiff mother and the baby ultimately spent another two days in the hospital before being discharged.
Currently, at 6 years old, infant plaintiff has trouble dressing himself and tying his shoelaces, and has a tendency to cradle his left arm close to himself. He has also been classified as other health impaired, and is enrolled in occupational therapy sessions.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in New York County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant doctor, defendant staff, and defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to timely deliver infant plaintiff by caesarian section after arrest in dilatation, and that this failure resulted in serious and permanent injuries to infant plaintiff. Ultimately, Fiztgerald & Fitzgerald settled with defendant hospital for a total of $350,000.00.