Legal: Failure to stop oxytocin until FHR deterioration

May 1, 2008

Failure to stop oxytocin until FHR deterioration

A California woman was admitted to a hospital in 2001 for induction and delivery of her first child. The FHR pattern showed variable decelerations and it became apparent the fetus was becoming compromised due to a lack of oxygen from cord compressions. The oxytocin was continued until the fetus decompensated, at which time an emergency cesarean section was performed. The infant was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia, developmental delays, and a seizure disorder.

The patient sued and claimed the oxytocin should not have been continued until the FHR deteriorated and the C/S should have been performed earlier to prevent the brain damage.

The defense claimed the fetus had been tolerating the umbilical cord compressions and the deterioration was sudden and unexpected. The case was resolved through arbitration, and $6 million was awarded for the child.