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Baltimore PVL Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawsuit

Riddick v. Mercy Medical Center

BabyThis birth injury claim was filed in Baltimore City after a baby was born with periventricular leukomalacia, among other injuries, due to the inconsistent fetal monitoring and inadequate bacterial vaginosis treatment that his mother received. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on March 19, 2018, and it is the 134th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A 39-year-old woman had a history of four complicated pregnancies, with issues including prematurity and two second trimester spontaneous abortions. As such, her fifth pregnancy was considered high risk.

Several months into her fifth pregnancy, the woman presented to Mercy Medical Center with complaints that the baby felt low, her cervix felt soft, and she was experiencing occasional vaginal pressure. After a vaginal exam, she was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis and administered antibiotics. When she was discharged from the hospital several days later, the woman was not given any instructions to continue taking antibiotics.

The woman returned to Mercy two weeks later, complaining of extremely painful contractions and concerned that her water had broken. She was diagnosed with a preterm premature rupture of membranes and admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit. The woman was placed on continuous fetal monitoring, antibiotics, and medication to suppress her premature labor. She continued to complain of painful contractions with lower back, lower abdominal, and vaginal pain.

On her second day in the hospital, the woman was transferred out of Labor and Delivery to the main floor. At that time, her fetal monitoring was reduced to thirty minutes per day and she was no longer given a daily blood test. Over the next few days, the woman reported decreasing fetal movement and increasing pain.

At thirty weeks' gestation, the woman gave birth to her baby boy. In the neonatal intensive care unit, the baby was found to have a positive sepsis screening, an elevated white blood cell count, intra-amniotic infection, and inflammation of the umbilical cord connective tissue. In other words, the mother's untreated bacterial vaginosis had caused the baby to suffer a debilitating infection. Subsequent testing confirmed his diagnosis of periventricular leukomalacia, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder.

Additional Comments
  • What went wrong? According to the claimant's expert witness, an OB/GYN physician, the defendant doctors made two key mistakes. First, they never completed the woman's antibiotic treatments for her bacterial vaginosis, a type of vaginal inflammation that is known to cause premature births. Second, knowing about the woman's complicated medical history, the defendant doctors should have maintained continuous fetal monitoring. If they had done so, they could have recognized when the baby went into distress and performed a timely C-section.
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a condition that arises when the brain's white matter is damaged. Since white matter is responsible for transmitting information between parts of the brain, nerve cells, and the spinal cord, PVL can cause difficulties with learning and muscle control.
  • Periventricular leukomalacia does not cause cerebral palsy. There are some children with periventricular leukomalacia who do not develop cerebral palsy.
  • Baltimore City
  • Mercy Health Services, Inc.
  • Mercy Medical Center, Inc.
  • St. Paul Place Specialists, Inc.
  • Metropolitan Ob-Gyn Associates, LLC
  • Two OB/GYNs
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Mercy Medical Center
  • Failing to properly treat the woman's bacterial vaginosis.
  • Performing unnecessary vaginal examinations.
  • Failing to timely deliver the baby after the woman's premature preterm rupture of membranes.
  • Failing to provide appropriate antibiotic prophylaxis.
  • Failing to adequately monitor the woman's blood count.
  • Failing to maintain continuous fetal monitoring.
Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendants' negligence, the baby suffered severe brain damage and physical deficits that require, among other things, 24-hour skilled nursing care, specialized education, extensive therapy, and specialized adaptive equipment.
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Martin Gubernick, M.D., ob/gyn
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