Legal: Shoulder dystocia results in severe brain damage

September 1, 2009

A Wisconsin woman filed a lawsuit against the US for prenatal care provided by a community health center funded by the federal government.

A LAWSUIT WAS FILED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES by a Wisconsin woman who had prenatal care provided by a community health center funded by the federal government. She was followed by nurse midwives and family practice physicians and claimed that the pregnancy was high risk due to her history of delivering two large babies, her advanced age, and symptoms of gestational diabetes. She maintained that this should have resulted in a referral to an obstetrician and/or a perinatologist. On the day of delivery, the patient claimed that the nurse midwives covering the deliveries failed to come to the hospital and evaluate her until about 40 minutes prior to delivery. The nurse midwife had difficulty during the delivery because of a shoulder dystocia and a second nurse midwife performed maneuvers and delivered the baby. The infant sustained severe brain damage. Negligence in the delivery was admitted and a trial was conducted on the issue of damages only. The judge awarded about $20 million and a post-trial settlement of about $18.2 million was reached.

Department editor DAWN COLLINS, JD, is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, CA. She welcomes feedback on this column via e-mail to dawncfree@gmail.com
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