In one of our cases, a mother was admitted to the hospital in preterm labor with an unknown GBS status and was not given antibiotics, although the standard of care dictates she should. She had a urine culture performed for a suspected urinary tract infection (UTI); the tests came back showing evidence of a UTI. The test was never reported to anyone, although standards of care dictated that the ordering physician should have been made aware of the abnormal UTI result. Medical staff did not follow up with the mother and she received no antibiotics, in violation of the standard of care. She was told to follow up with her prenatal physician more than five days later – she did so, but was not given treatment for either her UTI or for her GBS status. As a result of the ascending GBS infection, the physician’s examination revealed that the mother’s membranes had ruptured (water had broken), and an emergency C-section was ordered.
As a result of the untreated infection, the mother developed chorioamnionitis (an infection of the amniotic fluid and placenta); the chorioamnionitis then spread to her baby’s brain, causing severe brain damage and preterm delivery. Long-term, the child has cognitive and physical impairments (an IQ of 50 and cerebral palsy) that will require 24-hour care for the duration of the child’s lifespan.
This case was settled for $5 million.