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B.M., a minor v Anonymous, M.D./Medical Center

Dr. Fagel settled a case for $2.3 million on behalf of a child who now suffers cerebral palsy and developmental delays after hospital staff failed to respond to fetal distress and perform a timely Cesarean section. The mother was admitted to the hospital at 10:30 a.m., with the fetal monitor tracing showing a non-reassuring status and fetal distress. The defendant obstetrician viewed the fetal monitor strip at 10:55 a.m. and ordered a c-section, but waited to consult the family physician before proceeding with the surgery. After the family physician agreed with the necessity of a c-section, an anesthesiologist was called and spinal anesthesia began at 12:05 p.m. The Cesarean section was then started another 30 minutes later and the minor plaintiff was delivered at 12:40 p.m. with dangerously low Apgar scores and severe metabolic acidosis. A later MRI confirmed that the plaintiff sustained severe damage due to lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain.

The defendants contended that all care was within standard and that the plaintiff suffered brain injuries prior to his delivery. However, Dr. Fagel proved that the defendant obstetrician was negligent for not immediately proceeding with a stat C-section when she first recognized fetal distress. The obstetrician should not have waited for agreement from the family physician and should have told the anesthesiologist that the C-section was a stat procedure. Had the C-section been performed earlier, the tragic outcome would have been avoided or at least improved.