Goza & Honnold had the privilege of representing a young girl and her family in a medical malpractice suit brought against the girl’s delivering obstetrician and his corporation. The case was in Jackson County and settled for $1.6 million dollars.
Our clients were a military family stationed in Kansas City at the time of the girl’s birth. The mother was under the care of midwives throughout the pregnancy. Thirty-eight weeks into the pregnancy the baby was found to be breech, meaning the baby was presenting feet first. The mid-wives brought in the defendant obstetrician. He admitted the mother to the hospital for an external manual, which is a manual attempt by the physician to turn the baby. The defendant did successfully turn the baby, but the plaintiff’s heart rate immediately dropped and remained low dangerously low.
After 20 minutes, the defendant finally ordered an emergency cesarean section. The baby was delivered 11 minutes later. The baby was born with low apgars, needed resuscitation, and diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, which means brain injury from lack of oxygen, and cerebral palsy.
Our experts opined that the umbilical cord had become pinched during the manual version, thereby cutting off the unborn child’s oxygenated blood supply. This was a medical emergency that required immediate intervention and was not going to resolve on its own. The baby had been doing well up until this point of the pregnancy. The blood gases taken at birth showed good blood flow was consistent with an almost total lack of blood flow to the baby for a short period of time.
Oftentimes in these cases, the defense argues that as long as the time from decision to incision is less than 30 minutes the care is acceptable. Our experts explained that it was not acceptable here when the physician was aware of the risk of an external version and actually created the emergency. A surgical team should have been standing by ready to go.
This baby had a profound injury and a key issue centered on life expectancy. We had very competent experts addressing the life care needs of the child. We also had an expert pediatric physiatrist who did a nice job of explaining the advancements in technology impacting life expectancy and our client’s ability to progress.