Following a normal delivery, a woman develops an infection that leads to severe consequences. Plus: Another case alleging scarring from forceps.
A Massachusetts woman was receiving prenatal care from a nurse midwifery practice. When the woman’s condition declined a week prior to her due date, a decision was made to induce labor in the hospital. She had a natural vaginal delivery and was to remain in the hospital for observation for 48 hours.
On the second day the woman complained of nausea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. The nurse informed the midwife of the symptoms over the telephone and Tylenol was ordered. Two hours later the midwife was again notified that the patient had worsening abdominal pain. The midwife prescribed oxycodone, again over the telephone. Over the next several hours, the midwife was notified by phone of the patient’s condition but she never came in to examine her.
The next morning the patient was to be discharged and a different midwife examined her. It was noted that the patient was experiencing itching and a rash over her extremities and abdomen, and a complete blood count showed a critical value of 40% band neutrophils. An obstetrician made the decision to discharge the patient.
At home her condition did not improve and her husband called several times to get her help and eventually took her to the emergency room that evening. The woman’s condition deteriorated and she was transferred to another facility, where she was diagnosed with group A strep infection.
After weeks of treatment, her foot was amputated as a result of the overwhelming infection. The woman sued those involved with her delivery and postpartum care.
The verdict: The parties reached a settlement in the amount of $250,000.
Scarring from forceps alleged 21 years later
A 21-year-old Arizona man sued the doctor and hospital that were involved in his delivery.
His mother had had a normal pregnancy and labor and delivery progressed normally until she started pushing. The obstetrician noted that the fetal head retracted to +2 station between pushes. He attempted to use a vacuum extractor with fundal pressure during contractions, but that did not work. He then tried to deliver using Simpson forceps but when he attempted to remove them, they would not come out. It was not until the fetal head was nearly all the way out of the vaginal canal that the forceps were removed.
The infant sustained a large wound on the right cheek, eye, and eyebrow, and abrasion to the scalp, and a large hematoma to the top of his head. The 21-year-old plaintiff alleged that the doctor used the wrong type of forceps, that they were not applied correctly, that the use of the forceps was unwarranted, and that his injuries could have been avoided had the forceps not been used.
The physician argued that the fetus was in distress at the time and had to be delivered quickly and the forceps aided in a quicker delivery.
The verdict: A defense verdict was returned.