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    Legally Speaking: Did standing order fail?

     

     

     

    Ms Collins is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, California. She can be reached at [email protected].

    A Kentucky woman was admitted to the hospital in 2007 to deliver a term infant. When her labor became prolonged, oxytocin was used to augment contractions. The infant was delivered and subsequently diagnosed with a hypoxic birth injury and cerebral palsy.

    The patient sued those involved with her delivery and claimed that excessive oxytocin was administered and caused hyperstimulation of contractions. She also claimed that the nurses failed to inform the obstetrician of the fetal heart rate (FHR) readings throughout the afternoon of her labor.

    The parties disputed who ordered the oxytocin, the physician claiming she had a standing order against using doses over 20 milliunits. The patient received doses of 22, 24, and 26 milliunits, which the nurses argued were based on the doctor’s oral orders. The doctor denied the nurses’ account and any negligence, arguing that had she known of the excessive oxytocin doses, she would have immediately delivered the infant. The hospital also denied negligence and noted that the oxytocin was administered hours prior to delivery and played no role in any fetal distress.

    The verdict

    The jury returned a verdict for the patient and awarded $18.3 million.

    NEXT: Analysis >>

     

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