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Brandon v. USA

Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $3,500,000 on behalf of a child who now suffers cerebral palsy and developmental delays after employees of the Watts Foundation negligently failed to notice fetal distress and take proper actions, resulting in severe perinatal asphyxia. After 40 weeks gestation, a midwife recorded a decrease in fundal height (the size of the uterus, which is used to assess fetal development) but did not report her findings to an obstetrician. During the 41st week, a Non-Stress Test (used to measure fetal movement) was non-reactive, but a repeat NST was interpreted as reactive and the obstetrician was not informed. Four days later the mother went to the hospital with complaints of decreased fetal movement but was told to go home. The next day, the midwife reportedly asked the obstetrician, who testified that he was never told about the patient, to admit the mother to the hospital for induction and was told to wait until the patient was in her 42nd week of gestation. The mother returned the next day for an Amniotic Fluid Index Test, which showed a non-reactive, high fetal heart rate (non-reactive tachycardia) with rapid deceleration. The obstetrician then ordered for the patient to be sent to the hospital for direct admission, but upon her arrival at 1:30 pm there were no instructions for staff. The on-call obstetrician was paged and arrived to see the patient at 2:00 pm. After another AFI was administered and showed an extremely low level, an immediate C-section was ordered at 2:30 pm for fetal distress. However, the obstetrician then left to deliver another patient and did not return to the operating room until 3:35. The baby was finally delivered at 3:49 pm, appearing blue and apneic with a dangerously low heart rate.

The defendant contended that all care was within the standard of care and that there were no problems with the pregnancy that required intervention before the day of delivery and that the mother was properly referred to the hospital for delivery. With the help of Dr. Fagel and his associates, the plaintiff was not only able to prove that the defendants negligently failed to recognize problems in the pregnancy, but that once these problems were assessed they negligently delayed in performing the C-section, resulting in the infant's asphyxia and subsequent injuries.