Woman Awarded 22.6 Million After Baby Stuck In Birth Canal For 13 Hours

Article posted on:06/23/2008

As initially reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer, an Ohio woman whose baby was stuck in her birth canal for 13½ hours won $22.6 million last month in a medical malpractice lawsuit. A Hamilton County jury - which heard five weeks of testimony and deliberated for 3½ days - found physician and her practice group negligent in the case. Jurors also found that the doctor and her group knew or should have known their actions would have resulted in brain injuries during the Sept. 4, 1997, birth of the woman's child. According to the Plaintiff's attorney, the evidence was very compelling that this baby was not going to fit through the birth canal due to her size of over nine pounds. In addition, the mother was known to have a narrow pelvic arch. In addition to being a big baby in a small canal, the baby's injuries also were allegedly caused because medical workers continued to give the mother drugs to make the uterus contract, hoping to expel the baby. The result was a uterus contracting on the baby's stuck head, causing brain damage. Ultimately, the baby was delivered by Caesarian section. Now 11, the baby is a spastic quadriplegic. The baby suffered brain damage that will affect her for life because her head was squeezed for so long. She can walk short distances but needs a walker. She can see but because the part of her brain that processes vision was damaged, her brain can't properly interpret what her eyes see. She has problems using her hands, and she is mildly retarded.  She also suffers from signs and symptoms consistent with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a complex medical condition that ranges in severity from mild to severe.  Typically, those afflicted with cerebral palsy have an inability to control their motor function; i.e., they lack adequate muscle control and coordination.  Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy include:  involuntary movements of limbs; muscle spasticity (tightness), inability to walk properly (gait); seizures, breathing problems or difficulty swallowing; bladder and bowel continence issues; learning disabilities, and the impairment of one or more senses (sight, hearing, etc.).  More severe cases may also result in a child having difficulty speaking. 

In many instances, cerebral palsy is preventable.  Perhaps the greatest risk factor associated with cerebral palsy is a lack of oxygen flowing to the child (asphyxia) during the birthing process.  This can occur if the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the infant's neck, or if the infant's head becomes stuck during the delivery.  In essence, when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, brain cells die, causing injury.

At STSW, our lawyers believe that most birth injuries resulting in cerebral palsy are preventable with proper medical care and attention.  Whether the complication be due a drop in the fetal heart rate, high blood pressure for the mother, shoulder dystocia, the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck or problems with baby's position/presentation (i.e., breech), our lawyers believe that physicians should be equipped and prepared to timely treat these potentially life threatening complications to the child/mother.  Regardless, babies born with cerebral palsy more often than not require a lifetime of care and round-the-clock medical attention and surveillance.  As these babies grow into infancy, it is imperative that they receive regular and continued evaluations from a bevy health care providers in a variety of specialties, including but not limited to:  neurology, gastroenterology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.  This health care can be exorbitant and financially ruinous for parents trying to provide the best possible care for their children.  At STSW, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with all of these various types of health care providers and we recognize the importance of having our clients evaluated by such experts to truly ascertain the full extent of a child's injuries.    If you or a loved one believe your child was the victim of medical negligence in the Baltimore or Washington D.C. area that has led to the baby developing cerebral palsy or other neurological injury, call our lawyers at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation or visit our website to set up a free consultation.