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Medical Errors and Negligence Result in the Death of a Fetus

Confidential settlement was reached

Joy had good prenatal care, she was at full term, and all signs pointed to a normal and healthy baby on the day she went to the hospital to deliver.

As is standard in deliveries, an electronic fetal monitor (EFM) was placed on Joy’s belly to measure her contractions and the baby’s heart rate. Initially, the fetal monitor indicated that everything was fine. But after several hours of labor, the fetal monitoring strips showed cause for concern. Specifically, the strips showed fetal heart rate decelerations with a slow return to baseline and an erratic uterine contraction pattern. Despite these ominous signs that the baby was struggling to survive in the uterus, the doctor negligently failed to take action. Among other things, the doctor should have placed an internal fetal monitor, which is more sensitive and can provide more accurate information about the baby’s status.

An hour after the internal monitors should have been used, the baby’s heart rate repeatedly and severely decelerated and was slow to return to baseline. This likely was due to hypoxia (not enough oxygen reaching the baby’s tissues). A Cesarean section should have been performed at this time, as it was evident that a natural delivery was not imminent, and the baby was in danger. The doctor, however, again failed to act.

More than an hour later, after several failed attempts at vacuum extraction, the baby was finally delivered vaginally. He had no detectable vital signs and was completely limp. Despite efforts to resuscitate him, he did not survive. Various tests, including an umbilical blood gas study and a fetal autopsy, demonstrated that the baby, whose given name was Joey, died due to intrapartum asphyxia. In other words, he did not get enough oxygen during labor and essentially suffocated to death.

In the immediate aftermath of Joey’s death, Joy’s doctor repeatedly promised to “get to the bottom” of why Joey died. But, that never happened. Instead, Joey’s parents intentionally and repeatedly were misled as to the cause of his death. In fact, the doctors tried to conceal and misrepresent the autopsy findings.

The Eisen Law Firm took the depositions of multiple doctors and nurses. Each party blamed the other party, but it was very clear that had the proper procedures been followed, baby Joey’s death would have been prevented. A confidential settlement ultimately was reached, and Joey’s parents finally knew the real story surrounding his death — that it was caused by medical negligence.