The birth of a child is normally a joyous occasion for families. However, lives can be turned upside down when a newborn is catastrophically injured or dies during childbirth. There are many things that can go wrong during the labor and delivery process, so doctors and nurses alike must have a heightened awareness of any changes that could indicate fetal distress. The failure to react quickly to signs of fetal distress can lead to catastrophic injuries or the death of a newborn child.
Recently, an Atlanta area hospital was sued in three, separate cases involving the alleged wrongful death of babies, all of which occurred during a two month period. The lawsuits allege that doctors and nurses at South Fulton Medical Center were negligent in not recognizing signs of early labor in one of the cases, delaying a C-section delivery in another case, and neglecting to recognize the signs of fetal distress in the third case. None of the three babies survived.
In the first case involving the alleged failure to recognize the signs of early labor, a pregnant mother who was suffering from fever, back and stomach pain, and a decrease in fetal movement by the baby went to the hospital to be evaluated. She was told that she was suffering from the flu, was given Tylenol, and told that she could leave. No testing was done to determine whether she was in labor. Her pain worsened, so she returned to the hospital the same day and delivered a baby that weighed less than two pounds. The baby died shortly after being delivered.
In the case involving the alleged delay in performing a C-section, a pregnant mother noticed decreased fetal movement of her baby. She, too, went to South Fulton Medical Center for evaluation. Upon being admitted to the hospital, the mother was placed on a fetal monitor and the baby’s heartbeat was detected. A C-section was scheduled to take place that day, but was subsequently delayed until the next day. When the baby was delivered the next day, it was dead. The mother was told by the staff at the hospital that the baby had likely died several days prior to the delivery. When the family requested and obtained an autopsy, the autopsy revealed that the baby had died within 24 hours of the delivery. The lawsuit alleged that if the baby had been delivered when the mother was first admitted to the hospital, the baby would have been born alive.
In the case involving the alleged failure to recognize fetal distress, a young, pregnant mother who had reached full term was admitted to the hospital for delivery of the baby. The lawsuit alleges that the attending doctors at South Fulton Medical Center failed to recognize signs of fetal distress and were negligent in not scheduling an emergency C-section delivery. When the baby was delivered, there was no sign of brain activity. The baby was placed on life support, and died when life support measures were discontinued.
The doctors and South Fulton Medical Center have denied that they were negligent in all three cases, and the cases are now in litigation.
Lawsuits involving catastrophically injured newborns are among the most complex and challenging cases that are pursued by medical malpractice attorneys. They often require multiple medical experts in varying fields of medicine to investigate what actually happened and determine whether doctors or nurses are responsible for the injuries or deaths that occurred. Accordingly, they are among the most expensive cases for lawyers to investigate and pursue. Therefore, it is important to retain an attorney who is both experienced in medical malpractice cases and who has the financial resources to thoroughly investigate and take such cases to trial, if necessary. If you or a loved one has a child who was catastrophically injured as a result of the failure to properly manage the mother’s pregnancy or the failure to deliver the child in a safe and timely manner, contact the attorneys at Suthers & Harper. We recognize that mistakes during the labor and delivery process can impose lifelong challenges for the injured babies and their families.