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    Maternal death from intracranial hemorrhage

    Case hinges on family physician’s knowledge of obstetric conditions

     

    Alleged miscalculation of due date, injury from premature birth

    A New Jersey woman presented to her obstetrician in 2005 for her first prenatal visit. At that time she was unsure of the date of her last menstrual period and she underwent three ultrasounds during her pregnancy, which predicted her due date to be August 15. On August 1, she underwent induction of labor because she was suffering from gastrointestinal reflux. The infant appeared healthy at birth, but shortly thereafter went into respiratory distress. He was slow to meet developmental goals and was initially believed to be autistic. When he was 5 years old a diagnosis of periventricular leukomalacia was made and at 11 years old he suffers from permanent brain injuries.

    The woman sued her obstetrician, claiming that he failed to calculate the correct due date, and alleging that according to the ultrasounds the due date should have been August 25. She alleged that the early delivery was the cause of the child’s injuries.

    The verdict: The jury awarded $1.2 million.

    Prolonged rupture of membranes results in fetal infection

    A Virginia woman was 28 weeks pregnant when her membranes ruptured in 2011. She was leaking amniotic fluid and was placed on bed rest. She went to her obstetrician’s office 15 days later with signs of infection and he elected to deliver her that day. Eleven hours later the patient delivered vaginally. The infant was diagnosed with meningitis at birth and suffered infection-related complications including intracranial hemorrhage. She continues to suffer from permanent deficits.

    More: Prolonged PROM, labor induction, and cesareans

    In the lawsuit that followed, the patient alleged that the obstetrician was negligent in not immediately delivering her by cesarean when she was admitted to the hospital. She alleged that the delay exposed the fetus to infection for an additional 11 hours, leading to her permanent injury.

    The obstetrician denied falling below the standard of care in allowing her to labor and deliver vaginally.

    The verdict: A defense verdict was entered.

    NEXT: Failure to diagnose ovarian cancer

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