Hospital Staff Fails to Act on Clear Case of Placental Abruption — Family of Brain Damaged Baby Settle for Over $4 Million
A Toronto child will be forever dependent on others for her basic needs following her delivery where doctors and hospital staff failed to act on clear indications of severe problems with her mother’s uterus throughout labour. The child’s family has settled with the negligent defendants for over $4 million dollars.
Mom was admitted to the Toronto area hospital under the care of a doctor after a visit to his office which showed elevated blood pressure, proteinuria and edema. These are all symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which is one of the leading causes of placental abruption (where the lining of the placenta separates from the uterus). A fetal non-stress test (NST) done that day was normal. The next day, a nurse noted Mom had bright red vaginal bleeding and slight cramping. She informed the doctor, but another NST was done and again the results were normal.
Throughout the day, the heavy bleeding and cramps persisted. Mom had back pain and contractions that were related to the bleeding. Yet another NST was done, showing a fetal heart rate (FHR) pattern of 160 beats per minute with decelerations. The doctor was informed of these results and ordered that Mom be transferred to the labour and delivery unit. Given the significant changes in the FHR from the previous NST, the baby should have been delivered as soon as possible, probably by Caesarean section (C-section). Instead, the doctor chose to continue with labour despite the ongoing bleeding and uterine tenderness which evolved and progressed in a way that suggested classic but severe abruption.
A continuous FHR monitor was started and showed decreased variability, with the rate being slow to return to normal after a deceleration. The doctor examined Mom and determined that she was still bleeding, so he ordered Oxytocin to induce labor after reviewing the fetal monitor strip. Over the next two hours, the FHR became abnormal and decelerations increased. Mom kept bleeding and began to experience alarming pain and tenderness in her abdomen. Rather than increasing Oxytocin, the doctor should have expedited delivery due to the clear fetal distress.
A few hours later, there were no contractions and the abdomen was firm and tender to the touch. The doctor had to be asked again to see Mom, and ordered an immediate C-section. It was not until he discontinued Oxytocin 15 minutes later that the doctor diagnosed placental abruption, which had been evident hours before. To make matters worse, the C-section was not performed until almost 3 hours after it was ordered, despite the fact that it was noted as an emergency. This was an extreme breach of the standard of care. At delivery, meconium was present in the amniotic fluid and an abruption of 25% of the placenta was noted.
The baby had asphyxiated and sustained metabolic acidosis, seizures and hypoglycemia, and is now dependent in most aspects of life.
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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