Valenzuela Law Firm, PA | Trial Attorney
Attorney Henry E. Valenzuela

$3,750,000 Settlement in Medical Malpractice Action Against Physician and Hospital for Negligent Administration of Pitocin Causing Permanent Brain Damaged to Infant

A mother pregnant with her first child was under the care of her OB/GYN. Her prenatal course was unremarkable. After her water broke she was admitted to the Hospital for delivery of her child. Upon admission she was diagnosed with preeclampsia upon and treated accordingly. The mother was then started on Pitocin to augment her labor. Shortly after receiving increasing doses of Pitocin the mother began showing signs of uterine hyper stimulation, a known side effect of too much Pitocin. As a result, the Pitocin should have been stopped or titrated. Instead it was continually increased by the labor and delivery nurse to achieve a normal labor pattern. Ultimately, the continued use of Pitocin caused a sudden placental abruption. When the placental abruption started the fetal heart tracings became nonreassuring. As a result, the baby should have been delivered within 15 minutes of the start of such nonreassuring tracings. Instead, the baby was not delivered until 29 minutes after the start of the abnormal tracings. The 16 minute delay was critical to the baby ultimately suffering a severe hypoxic encephalopathy and profound permanent cerebral palsy.
The Plaintiff filed suit against the OB/GYN alleging that he negligently failed to properly monitor the labor, supervise the nurse and manage the administration of Pitocin. As a result, the baby suffered a needless placental abruption.
The Plaintiff filed suit against the Hospital alleging its nursing staff negligently failed to notify the physician of signs of uterine hyperstimulation and continued to increase the Pitocin instead of stopping or reducing it. As a result, the baby suffered a needless placental abruption. The Plaintiff further alleged that the Hospital negligently delayed the delivery of the baby by failing to accomplish the deliver within 15 minutes of the first nonreassuring signs on the fetal heart tracings. Instead a 16 minute delay took place which was when the brain damage occurred.
The OB/GYN tendered it policy limits presuit.
The Hospital denied any liability and mounted an aggressive defense. The Hospital argued that nursing was not negligent because the maternal tracings did not show signs of uterine hyperstimulation so as to support the argument that the mother was given too much Pitocin, that the fetal heart tracings were reassuring throughout the labor and delivery and did not become nonreassuring until the start of the sudden placental abruption, that the OB/GYN was responsible for monitoring the labor and authorized the last dose of Pitocin before the placental abruption, that the Pitocin played no role in causing the placental abruption which was due to the previously diagnosed preeclampsia, and that there was no delay in delivery because the baby was delivered within 30 minutes of the decision to perform a c-section.
The case settled for $3,750,000.