A little over 39 weeks into her pregnancy, the 40-year-old mother arrived at the hospital for a scheduled C-section. The doctors began to monitor the fetal heart rate, but due to periodic losses of the signal, the heart rate was only recorded for a total of 18 minutes. During the time the fetal heart rate was recorded, it looked overall reassuring with some arguably concerning signs.
The mother was then moved to the operating room for a C-section, and anesthesia was administered. During this time, there was no fetal heart rate monitoring, other than a quick check by the nurse. Over the next half hour, several doses of vasopressors (drugs intended to increase blood pressure) were given to the mother, though no note of blood pressure issues or suspected blood loss was given to the obstetric team. The delivery should have occured 5 to 8 minutes sooner.
The baby was born with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and was given hypothermia cooling treatment. It was then confirmed that the mother suffered a placental abruption prior to the C-section, and the baby’s HIE was a result of the blood loss from this placental abruption. This placental abruption went unnoticed due to improper and inconsistent fetal monitoring.
As a result of the doctor’s failure to recognize the warning signs of a placental abruption, the baby now suffers from mild spastic diplegic/triplegic cerebral palsy, hypotonia, seizure disorder, and has a normal IQ. The case settled for $2.45 due to limited insurance coverage.