Mom Delivers Distressed Infant Alone After Being Abandoned by Untrained and Unprepared Medical Resident — Family Settles for $4.8 Million Dollars
Mom, a Toronto resident, was admitted to the Toronto area hospital after spontaneously going into labour. The obstetrician on call was being assisted by a resident. The fetal heart rate (FHR) was only assessed three times throughout Mom’s entire labour. For an hour the FHR became unreadable, but no adjustments were made by the nurses to correct the problem or to obtain a reading.
Mom was not examined until she was 8-9 cm dilated. The obstetrician artificially ruptured Mom’s membranes and a very small amount of fluid and some meconium were found, evidencing fetal distress and making it critical that a person experienced in neonatal resuscitation attend the delivery. Unfortunately, this did not transpire. The obstetrician did not arrive until 45 minutes after he was notified that Mom was fully dilated. He left and told the nurses to call him again when the fetal head was crowning, which happened 15 minutes later. Only the medical resident was present. When the resident realized that the baby’s head was being delivered, she panicked and ran out of the room, leaving Mom alone.
Within two minutes, the baby was born, supported by Mom as he was delivered spontaneously onto her bed, covered with thick meconium. When the nurse arrived following the birth, she clamped the cord and cleaned the baby, all before calling for help. She made no attempt to resuscitate the infant, since she had not taken any courses in neonatal resuscitation and did not know how. The resident and the obstetrician arrived 3-5 minutes after the birth.
The baby was limp, cyanotic (blue from lack of oxygen) and not crying. The doctor administered oxygen by face mask, but did not suction him, assign Apgar scores, or obtain cord blood gases, despite the fact that the baby was lethargic, grunting, pale and limp. The baby was diagnosed with a spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.
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