F. N., a minor v Anonymous Physician/Hospital
Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $2,950,000 on the behalf of a child who now has severe brain damage as a result of injuries sustained during the
birth process. The pregnancy was relatively normal until the mother developed maternal hypertension, for which no medication was prescribed. Eventually, she was admitted to the hospital for induction of labor with medication. When her water broke, light meconium staining was noted and continued to thicken throughout delivery. However, no action was taken to determine the cause of or treat the thickening meconoium. During labor, the mother began to experience pre-eclampsia and heart decelerations were noted on the fetal monitor strip, but hospital staff essentially took no action yet again. Eight hours after the meconium was first noted, the infant plaintiff was born through vacuum assisted delivery. At birth, the infant had extremely low vital signs and was intubated, but remained hypoxic for his first 10 minutes of his life. As a result of oxygen deprivation during the birth process, the plaintiff now suffers a wide array of brain injuries- he has a seizure disorder, cortical vision deficit, cannot stand, walk or crawl, and cannot grasp objects, feed himself or assist himself with any of his daily living needs. In addition, he has
microcephaly and poor muscle tone and will be dependent on others for all his needs throughout his life.
Although the defense claimed that the plaintiff’s injuries were unavoidable and that all care was within standard, Dr. Fagel maintained that hospital staff acted negligently and could have prevented the plaintiff’s injuries with proper care. The mother’s hypertension and pre-eclampsia should have immediately been identified as a threat to fetal health, and once the complications became more serious (as evidenced by the thickening meconium and heart decelerations), the obstetrician and hospital staff should have immediately moved the mother to the operating room for a Cesarean section. Attempting to deliver the baby through vacuum delivery was a clear mistake that resulted in delays and ultimately contributed to the child’s hypoxic brain damage.