Baby a Lifelong Dependent After Doctor Ignores Basic Forceps Rules — Family Recovers Over $4 Million

A Toronto baby suffered a debilitating brain injury after a doctor wrenched him from his mother’s uterus before her body was ready for delivery. The family has settled for over $4 million dollars in damages.

Mom was pregnant with her third child; despite the fact that her membranes had ruptured, she was not in active labour when she arrived at the Toronto area hospital. She was induced with Syntocinon, and the fetal heart rate (FHR) began to slow down. The doctor had not yet arrived at the hospital, but was notified. The doctor ordered the induction to continue and the dosage increased (which is never appropriate in the face of fetal distress with persistent late decelerations).

Soon after this order was carried out, the FHR dropped dramatically to 60 beats per minute, followed by profound fetal bradycardia (extremely quick FHR) about an hour later. When Mom was 8 cm dilated, the doctor attempted a forceps delivery three times through the undilated cervix. In addition, the doctor misapplied the forceps and repeated his attempts at a forceps delivery before determining that a Caesarean section (C-section) was required. The fetal head was rotated to an upright position with the forceps, which lacerated Mom’s vaginal wall.

The baby was finally delivered by C-section several hours later, and was near death. After birth, he had aspirated so much blood and amniotic fluids that he could not breathe properly. He developed repetitive seizures requiring intensive therapy, and had an electrolyte imbalance. There was evidence of transient myocardial ischemia (a sustained lack of oxygen to his heart).

He now has cerebral atrophy, which is consistent with the ischemic insult to his brain during birth. His development is significantly delayed and he is dependent in most aspects of daily life. Following the birth it was decided that the doctor who delivered him was to be supervised by the obstetrical staff. An agreement was later reached with the doctor that she would no longer care for patients; she could apply for reappointment but would be required to undergo further medical training.

Sommers Roth & Elmaleh Professional Corporation has over 40 years of experience in medical malpractice litigation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, and across Canada.

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The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.