A child, from the city of Ajax, in the province of Ontario, was severely brain damaged at birth due to the negligence of midwives who oversaw the mother’s labour. As a result of a settlement with the midwives, the parents will recover $7.7 million dollars in compensation. The child suffered a cognitive disability (significant and permanent cognitive delay) as well as marked developmental delays.
At 19:00, the mother was admitted to Markham area hospital under the care of her midwives (she was in the first stage of labour), and at 22:00, the midwives noted variable fetal heart rate (FHR) decelerations and electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) was initiated. The following morning, at 02:10, little progress in labour had occurred (the mother’s cervix was not dilating) and the midwives transferred care of the mother to the obstetrician/nurses. Shortly after 03:15, the obstetrician who assessed the mother gave her Oxytocin to speed up labour.
The Oxytocin worked well, and by 06:30 the mother’s cervix was fully dilated. For this reason, the Oxytocin was discontinued and the mother’s care was transferred back to the midwives (who reassumed care for the 2nd stage of labour). At about 07:35, the electronic FHR demonstrated that the baby was in significant distress (due to compression of the umbilical cord). At that time, the midwives should have informed the obstetrician about the extremely concerning FHR pattern (as intervention was required immediately), but shockingly, instead, they chose to discontinue EFM and began to auscultate the FHR manually – which continued to demonstrate FHR decelerations. It was not until about 08:32 that the midwives advised the obstetrician of the very concerning FHR. Shortly thereafter, the obstetrician delivered the baby, who was severely depressed at birth. Thick meconium was present.
The baby needed resuscitation, intubation and suctioning and required bagging for almost 15 minutes. Around 10:30, the baby began to suffer seizures as a result of intrapartum birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen supply to the body and brain during labour) during the second stage of labour. Had the labour been properly managed, including noting the significant FHR abnormalities, the baby would not have suffered significant cognitive disabilities.
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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