The family of a baby in Honolulu, Hawaii, recently won a
$9 million settlement from the Tripler Army Medical Center, after the negligence of the medical
staff led to the boy’s
cerebral palsy. The medical team declined to perform an emergency C-section on the mother
during birth, even after the baby began showing clear signs of distress
due to oxygen deprivation in the mother’s womb. After delivery,
the baby was diagnosed with
hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a form of brain damage caused by lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain.
Later, the baby was diagnosed with severe spastic cerebral palsy and will
need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.
The mother in this case had been monitored closely during her pregnancy,
as she had delivered a previous baby by C-section, and had other risk
factors for a ruptured uterus. When she was 35-weeks pregnant, she began
to experience severe lower abdominal pain and went to the hospital. The
medical staff did not inform the mother’s obstetrician of her abdominal
pain, and they failed to recognize any signs of distress from the baby
on the fetal heart monitor. When the staff finally realized something
was wrong and began to deliver the baby by C-section, it was too late,
as the child had already been
deprived of oxygen for too long.
Uterine Rupture Leads to HIE and Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is a catch-all expression for a series of disorders that
adversely impact a child’s nervous system, including his muscle
tone, balance, coordination, posture, and movement. It affects as many
as four out of every 1,000 babies born worldwide. These disorders are
often caused by
brain injuries that occur in babies while in utero or during birth, and HIE is a common cause of cerebral palsy.
Uterine rupture occurs when the wall of the uterus tears open. This results
in a lot of bleeding, and causes the baby to spill out of the uterus into
the mother’s abdomen. Among other things, prior C-section delivery
is a strong risk indicator for uterine rupture. Sudden, severe abdominal
pain is a common symptom of a ruptured uterus, and should set off alarm
bells in any obstetrician. Uterine rupture can lead to the baby being
deprived of oxygen, thus causing HIE and, eventually,
A ruptured uterus can be extremely harmful to both the mother and baby.
Medical professionals need to monitor the signs of rupture closely, especially
in women with high risk factors. When the baby shows signs of distress,
the doctors should take swift, definitive action to deliver the baby safely.
Medical negligence during pregnancy or birth can have tragic consequences,
and should therefore be prevented as much as possible.
What to Do if Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and you believe that
this condition may be the result of a birth injury, you should contact
a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts
of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they
can help you seek the compensation you deserve.