Medical Malpractice, Spastic Diplegia, Retinopathy of Prematurity, Bilateral Ankle-Foot Orthosis on Both Legs, Severe Spasticity, Nonverbal, Cerebral Palsy
Injuries: Spastic Diplegia, Retinopathy of Prematurity, Bilateral Ankle-Foot Orthosis on Both Legs, Severe Spasticity, Nonverbal, Cerebral Palsy
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on January 5, 2006 at Defendant Hospital Beth Israel Medical Center at 27 weeks gestation via emergency caesarian section. The baby weighed 11 lb 6.5 oz.
Prior to giving birth, plaintiff mother had an uneventful pregnancy. She did not experience high blood pressure, and did not have protein in her urine, or any blood changes. She did not have pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or gestational diabetes, and tested negative for Group B streptococcus (GBS) and urinary tract infection (UTI).
About a week before delivery, plaintiff mother presented to defendant hospital complaining of contractions and bleeding, and stated that she had been bleeding intermittently throughout her pregnancy. She was admitted, and put into an observation room with a fetal heart monitor placed on her stomach. She received two injections of steroids, and was given magnesium as well. She was told she would be on complete bed rest from that point onward, and would continue to be monitored.
The next day, on January 1, 2007, plaintiff mother was given another round of two injections of steroids and magnesium. However, her bleeding continued. The following day, on January 2, plaintiff mother was given a third round of steroids and magnesium, but she still continued to bleed.
Plaintiff mother recalls that a day later, on January 3, her water broke while she was in bed. A nurse examined her and informed her that she still had enough amniotic fluid to keep the baby in the womb, but that she was now bleeding blood clots as well. A doctor informed her that if she continued to bleed blot clots, an emergency caesarian section would have to be performed, and the baby would have to be delivered. By this time, doctors suspected that plaintiff mother had placenta praevia.
The next day, on January 4, plaintiff mother was given another round of steroids. The following day, on January 5 at around 3 a.m., plaintiff mother began experiencing contractions about seven minutes apart. She also continued to bleed blood clots. A doctor informed her that an emergency caesarian was now necessary. About two hours later, the baby was born. His Apgar scores were 7 and 9, at 1 minute and 5 minutes, respectively. He was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he was placed on a ventilator. The baby appeared to be doing well initially; however, less than twenty-four hours later, on January 6, one of the baby’s lungs collapsed.
As time went on, the baby’s condition continued to deteriorate. At three weeks old, he was placed on a feeding tube. At one month old, a MRI revealed a cyst on the left side of the baby’s brain. However, the baby was deemed well enough to leave the hospital; thus, after seventy-seven days in defendant hospital, the baby was finally discharged.
At five and a half months old, another MRI revealed scarring on the baby’s brain. A doctor informed plaintiff mother that this was due to a hemorrhage that the baby had suffered. Plaintiff mother recalls that at no point prior to this moment had she been told that there had been bleeding in her baby’s brain.
At one year old, a third MRI again revealed scarring on the baby’s brain. Plaintiff mother was informed that she could expect the baby to experience extreme developmental delays.
At a year and a half old, a neurologist examined the baby and confirmed that he was extremely developmentally delayed. The baby was also diagnosed with spastic diplegia, and was referred to a physiatrist for orthotics and botox injections. The physiatrist recommended bilateral ankle-foot orthoses and continuous botox injections.
About three months later, the baby was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Currently, at six years old, the child has poor balance and falls frequently, and must wear a helmet. He must also wear bilateral ankle-foot orthoses (orthotics that run from his toes to his calves) on both legs, which prevent him from “toe walking” and force his feet into a flat posture. The braces are necessary because of his spastic diplegia, which causes tightness throughout his entire body but most severely affects his legs. Although the child can walk, he can only walk very short distances; he must use a wheelchair outside the house. He becomes frustrated and easily loses focus. He cannot feed himself with a fork or a spoon, as he cannot manipulate either utensil because of his shaking. He cannot dress himself, and he cannot sit up straight, and constantly slouches to one side. He experiences significant back pain. It is expected that he will require at least hamstring relief surgery sometime in the near future. He continues to receive botox injections every four to six months for his spastic diplegia.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in New York County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant hospital and staff departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to earlier diagnose and manage plaintiff mother’s placenta praevia, and failing to control plaintiff’s contractions more aggressively with tocolysis, thereby minimizing the disturbance to the placenta. Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald ultimately settled with defendants for a total of $968,750.00.00.