C.L., a minor v Anonymous Hospital
Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $4,070,000 on behalf of a young girl who now has cerebral palsy and hypoxic
brain injuries resulting from unnecessary delays in the delivery process. The mother was admitted to the hospital for a Vaginal Birth after Delivery (VBAC) trial of labor. When the mother complained of severe and constant pain, the nurse called the defendant obstetrician, OB 1, who was inducing two patients at another hospital. OB 1 told the nurse to give her Stadol for the pain, and then, at 4:25 p.m., asked the nurse if there was another OB in the hospital who could place an internal scalp electrode and pressure catheter into the patient. Another defendant obstetrician, OB 3, agreed and placed both by 4:34 p.m. There was an immediate deceleration in fetal heart rate and OB 3 attempted but failed to obtain a fetal heart rate for the next six minutes. A crash C-section was called at 4:40 p.m. and the defendant OB 1 and defendant anesthesiologist were called to the hospital. OB 1 arrived before 5:00 p.m., but the anesthesiologist did not arrive until 5:10 p.m. The C-section finally began at 5:20 p.m., and the baby was delivered three minutes later with hypoxic brain injuries.
Dr. Fagel proved that the defense was negligent and therefore responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries for a multitude of reasons. First, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelinesrecommend that when a VBAC is being attempted, physicians must be immediately available to respond to any complications. As such, OB 1 and the anesthesiologist had a duty to be immediately available for the C-section. However, mainly due to the anesthesiologist’s delay, the baby was not delivered until 43 minutes after first requested, in violation of the 30 minute delivery time that constitutes a proper standard of care. In addition, OB 3 was negligent for failing to obtain a fetal heart rate after the severe decelerations first began at 4:34 p.m.