Negligence of Hospital and Doctors Causes Birth Asphyxia – Leads to Recovery of $4.1 for Family of Brain Damaged Baby

The Guelph area defendant hospital and doctors settled with the family of a brain damaged baby for approximately $4.1 million dollars.

Mom, a Mount Forest resident, was a 33 year old woman who was diagnosed as being a Group B streptococcal carrier (GBS+) approximately 3 months before she gave birth. One of Mom’s doctor’s informed her that because of this, she should receive antibiotic coverage if her membranes were ruptured more than 12 to 18 hours prior to delivery. Around the same time, Mom’s one-hour glucose tolerance screen was found to be abnormal and she went on dietary control.

The day prior to giving birth, mom was post-term (40 weeks and 6 days) and a doctor ordered that she attend the hospital the following day for a routine induction. Mom returned the next day (41 weeks pregnant) and the doctor inserted Prostin vaginally, another dose was also given cervically a short time later.

Two days later, a different doctor assumed the care of Mom. However, when the new doctor assumed Mom’s care, the doctor made the critical error of assuming that mom had had an uncomplicated pregnancy at 41+ weeks. This new doctor was unaware of mom’s GBS+ status and Mom’s chart was not available. The original doctor who was overseeing Mom was negligent in not ensuring the new doctor was aware of mom’s GBS positive status. A GBS positive infection can be very dangerous to a newborn baby, as it can cause sepsis (blood infection). Therefore, the baby must be treated properly with antibiotics before birth.

An artificial rupture of membranes was performed (revealing clear amniotic fluid) and Oxytocin was initiated to induce labour. Mom was next assessed by the doctor about 10 hours later. Her cervix was found to be 8-9 cm dilated. About 2 hours after that, the doctor made a failed attempt to use forceps to deliver the baby. The fetal heart rate tracing was significantly abnormal following the application of the forceps (there was tachycardia — a high fetal heart rate). In light of this, the baby should have been delivered by emergency Caesarean section (C-section) immediately. However, it took over one hour to deliver the baby. The baby suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy as a result of asphyxia prior to birth.

At birth, the baby required significant resuscitation. The attending anaesthetist was negligent as he indicated that there was no urgency to perform the C-section. The attending doctor was also negligent for not having proper pediatric support available for the baby at birth and for conducting an improper forceps delivery, when the baby ought to have been delivered by C-section, as well as other reasons.

The attending nurses were negligent for not taking proper temperature readings from mom, starting mom on Oxytocin only 4 hours after Prostin had been given, not alerting the physician of the persistent tachycardia, in addition to other reasons.

At birth, the baby was born flat and had no respiratory effort initially. The baby went on to develop seizures, apnea, sinus thrombosis and cerebral edema. The child currently has cerebral palsy with spastic diplegia.

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.