Family of Catastrophically Disabled Baby Settles for over $6 Million after Negligent use of Oxytocin Gradually Suffocates Distressed Fetus

A Toronto Mother of three was the victim of improper administration of oxytocin, which increases contractions, depriving her fetus of oxygen which resulted in a catastrophic disability. The family eventually settled with the negligent defendants for over $6 million.

Mom’s first three pregnancies were uneventful. When she arrived at the Scarborough area hospital to deliver, the doctor noticed the fetal heart rate (FHR) began to deteriorate. Oxytocin was administered at an increasing rate. Soon, the decelerations became repetitive and strong. As the baseline gradually decreased over a 1 hour period, the oxytocin dosage was progressively increased. Despite wondering if the decelerations were in fact late decelerations, indicating that not enough oxygen was getting to the fetus, the nurse continued the induction and again increased oxytocin until the FHR dropped to an alarmingly low 60 beats per minute. When the FHR became immeasurable, the nurse stopped oxytocin, began oxygen therapy and paged the doctor three times. Oxytocin should have been stopped and oxygen therapy should have been started at the first sign of a drop in the FHR.

The baby was suffering from progressive intrauterine asphyxia, which was being aggravated by oxytocin-induced contractions. This process was suffocating the fetus. An obstetrical alert was called and an emergency Caesarean section was performed. The emergency was so dire that the doctor was willing to proceed without an anaesthetist. After delivery, the baby was resuscitated with a bag and mask but began to have seizures.

At 4 days old, the baby was diagnosed as having suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy which resulted in cerebral palsy. The baby is now non-verbal, developmentally delayed, has heavy spasticity and requires assistance with all aspects of everyday living.

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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.