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A. J., a minor v Anonymous Medical

Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $2,000,000 on behalf of a child who suffers cerebral palsy resulting from asphyxia during the birth process. The mother was admitted to the hospital at 6:55 a.m. for induction of labor for a VBAC delivery. The fetal monitor tracing showed a healthy fetus, so the patient was started on Pitocin and the obstetrician went home. At about 8:00 a.m. there were some mild decelerations, which stopped after a short period of time, and between 9:20 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. there was evidence of intermittent hyperstimulation. The patient began complaining of severe abdominal pain and at 12:30 p.m. there was a six minute prolonged deceleration followed by a complete loss of the fetal heart tracing. The attending nurse then asked another nurse to come in and assist in obtaining the tracing. After the second nurse was unsuccessful, the OB was called at home. He arrived at 12:45 p.m. and immediately called for a crash Cesarean section. The baby was delivered at 12:59 with the umbilical cord wrapped three times around its neck. Due to a prolonged lack of oxygen, the plaintiff has significant brain damage and a life expectancy of no more than 10 years.

The defense contended that the nurses were well within the standard of care by attempting to determine the nature of the problem before calling the obstetrician. The defense also highlighted the fact that the baby was delivered within 30 minutes of the first evidence of any problem, which is within the standard of care set forth by ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines.