A Toronto, Ontario family of a brain damaged baby recovers over $7.1 million pursuant to a settlement with a defendant obstetrician working at a Toronto area hospital.
A 27-year-old woman’s pregnancy was followed by her family doctor and obstetrician. Mom did not have a significant past medical history, although her mother suffered from high blood pressure. Less than two months before mom’s due date, she began to suffer from severe headaches. She contacted her obstetrician’s office and was told that she had to wait until her next scheduled appointment to come in or alternatively, she could see her family doctor. Mom saw her family doctor that day who noted that she had gained excessive weight since her last visit and that she had high blood pressure. At the time, Mom was complaining of nausea, vomiting and headaches. Mom’s family doctor diagnosed her with pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and called her obstetrician to request an urgent consultation.
The following day, mom saw her obstetrician (who was aware of mom’s family doctor’s diagnosis of PIH). The obstetrician noted a 5-day history of headache and vomiting. The obstetrician referred mom to a neurologist for her severe headaches. It seems that the obstetrician ignored the family doctor’s diagnosis of PIH, instead believing that Mom had a neurological problem associated with her severe headaches. The obstetrician was negligent for ignoring the other symptoms associated with pre-eclampsia (PIH and proteinuria) and instead focused on the possibility that Mom had a brain tumor, to explain Mom’s headaches and vomiting. The obstetrician should have conducted further investigations (as previously mentioned) and therefore in view of the lack of a close personal assessment and follow-up of Mom, the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia was missed or delayed to the point that the baby suffered tremendously.
Upon leaving the neurologist’s office, mom began to bleed vaginally. Mom was admitted to the hospital with a blood pressure of 170/110, which was extremely high. The obstetrician ordered that Mom be administered some drugs including Apresoline (an antihyperintensive drug). The obstetrician was negligent in prescribing this drug as it only aggravated the situation. Shortly thereafter, Mom’s blood pressure dropped drastically to 77/38. The fetus began to develop heart rate abnormalities which resulted in fetal distress. Nursing staff tried to elevate the blood pressure of mom, and to relieve fetal distress, by changing Mom’s position and administering fluids. Mom began to bleed vaginally and about 30 minutes later a Caesarean section was performed. The baby was born about 8 weeks premature.
Had the obstetrician properly managed and diagnosed Mom’s PIH, the pregnancy would have been prolonged, which would have resulted in a much more mature infant, with a brain and a body that would be less vulnerable.
Shortly after birth, the baby developed severe respiratory distress syndrome (“RDS”) and a pulmonary haemorrhage. The baby also developed other complications including anaemia, jaundice, thrombocytopenia and electrolyte abnormalities. The child has mixed cerebral palsy (spastic quadriplegia with dyskinesia), bilateral hearing loss and expressive communication difficulties.
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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