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D.K., a minor v Anonymous Medical Center, Medical Group and Company

Dr. Fagel negotiated a settlement of $5,000,000 on the behalf of a child who now has cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation during the birth process. The mother was followed in her pregnancy by Family Practice Residents at a clinic affiliated with the defendant medical center. The mother developed high blood pressure at 38 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. She was admitted to the defendant medical center and, upon learning of the PIH diagnosis, the Family Practice attending physician determined that she should be manages by the obstetrics service. The OB resident then saw the patient, but assumed she was just consulting the patient rather than managing her labor. At 9 p.m., the fetal monitor began to show decelerations and at 1 a.m., the fetal monitor strip showed a non-reactive fetus. However, a test conducted by the OB and Family Practice resident showed that the fetus’ oxygen level was normal and, despite the non-reactive strip, they decided to continue with labor. At 4:15 a.m., the plaintiff was delivered vaginally with critically low vital signs. The baby required full resuscitation and was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with hypoxic brain damage and severe cerebral palsy.

The defense contended that all care was within standard because the non-reassuring fetal monitor strip did not require intervention when the fetal oxygen levels were normal. However, Dr. Fagel argued that the physicians were negligent for not properly diagnosing fetal distress when the fetal monitor strip became non-reactive. The fetus’ condition required earlier delivery by Cesarean section and, had physicians properly reacted to the complications, the baby’s oxygen deprivation and consequent injuries would have been averted.