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Gestational Diabetes Failure to Perform a C-Section Lawsuit

Taylor v. Southern Maryland Women's Health Care, P.A.

 Baby This is a birth injury medical negligence suit. The defendants are St. Mary's hospital and two treating physicians. The lawsuit alleges that medical malpractice caused their infant daughter's severe brain damage and Erb's Palsy as the result of a combination of poor prenatal care and negligence during delivery. The claim was filed on January 11, 2018. It is the 15th malpractice lawsuit filed in Maryland in 2018. It is the first medical malpractice lawsuit filed in St. Mary's County.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

The 27-year-old expectant mother of the plaintiff is receiving prenatal care with the defendants. She has gestational diabetes, which is managed with insulin and a special diet. During a routine ultrasound, the claimant's fetus is found to be unusually large given its age (just under 32 weeks). Although the standard of care indicates that the baby's size is monitored prior to delivery, another ultrasound isn't performed.

Six weeks later, the claimant presents to the defendant hospital with contractions and fluid loss. The patient's conditions are confirmed but she is sent home. The patient returns six days later with nausea and contractions. She is placed on a fetal heart monitor and given Zofran (an anti-nausea/vomiting medication). She is seen again the following month with complaints of contractions and is given a vaginal exam.

The next day, the claimant returns and labor is induced. The fetus exhibits late decelerations (a dangerous decrease in fetal heart rate) but these are ignored by the bedside staff. Roughly nine hours later, the infant begins to crown. The delivering doctor, encountering shoulder dystocia (a birth complication where is unable to pass through the birth canal without adjustment), uses excessive force to remove the child.

Upon delivery, the infant is born with an acute brain injury (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) and a stationary right arm from Erb's Palsy. The child is resuscitated and transferred to another hospital for specialized care.

Case Analysis
  • The mother's gestational diabetes can cause a fetus to gain weight. Because of this, the likelihood that a C-section will be needed becomes much higher. Gestational diabetes is most common in the last three months of a pregnancy.
  • The negligence alleged in the suit is a combination of multiple factors. The defendants failed to monitor the infant's growth despite several red flags (gestational diabetes, the accelerated size of the fetus). Then, the defendants failed to perform a C-section and were negligent in attempting to deal with either the fetal distress or the shoulder dystocia. Had the C-section been performed, the later complications may have been avoided completely.
  • Plaintiffs are pushing two separate lines of negligence. The first is failing to properly monitor the mother's pregnancy. The second is whether the doctors had a second chance to save the baby by taking immediate action in response to the baby's nonreassuring heart rate.
Plaintiff's Expert Witnesses

Plaintiff's certifying expert is Dr. Marcus Hermansen. He is a pediatrician board certified in neonatology. His practice is based in Nashua, New Hampshire. In his expert report, he says defendants had been negligent in not delivering the infant sooner by C-section. Dr. Hermansen also believes that the defendants' failure to should have monitored the infant's growth using sonograms. He specified that a sonogram should have been performed late in the third trimester.

Alleged Negligence
  • The defendants were aware that the claimant had gestational diabetes. The defendants were also aware that the claimant was carrying a large baby, leaving the fetus at risk for shoulder dystocia.
  • The defendants were negligent in failing to monitoring the growth of the fetus via ultrasound exams. The defendants also ignored obvious signs of fetal distress and failed to perform a C-section at delivery.
  • Due to this overall negligence, the infant suffered complications from shoulder dystocia and sustained a hypoxic brain damage. She also sustained a brachial plexus injury (an arm paralysis injury more commonly known as Erb's Palsy).

A Leonardtown obstetricians, Southern Maryland Women's Health Care, P.A., and St. Mary's Hospital of St. Mary's County, Inc.


St. Mary's County

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