After a healthy pregnancy, a young mother went into labor at term. When she got to the hospital, fetal monitoring indicated that her baby (a little girl) was healthy and doing well. Two hours later the fetal monitor began to show signs of fetal distress, which meant that the baby was having difficulty obtaining enough oxygen in the womb. The attending nurse did not notify the doctor for more than two hours. When the mother’s membranes ruptured, “thick meconium” was found. Meconium is an indication that the baby is in distress; however, no one called a pediatrician to be present when the baby was born. The little girl was blue and floppy when born, but only a respiratory therapist was present to start resuscitation. That respiratory therapist did not even begin giving the baby oxygen for six minutes.
When the respiratory therapist finally tried to place a breathing tube to resuscitate the baby, she misplaced the tube and placed it in the baby’s esophagus. As a result, the child was getting no oxygen. The misplaced tube was not detected until the pediatrician arrived. Only then did the baby’s heart rate begin to come back. The first detectable heart rate was 22 minutes after the child was delivered. The little girl developed quadriplegic cerebral palsy because of the lack of oxygen at birth. Because of her profound birth injuries, this child will need around-the-clock care for her entire life.
The hospital which employed the labor and delivery nurse and the respiratory therapist was sued. After two years of discovery and pretrial litigation, the case was settled for $7.5 million three days before trial, which allowed the parents to provide a handicapped-accessible home for their little girl, keep her in the home with the help of nurses, and provide her with the best therapy, treatment and equipment to help her develop and enjoy life.
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