The family of a baby in Honolulu, Hawaii, recently won a $9 million settlementfrom 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 babieswhile 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, cerebral palsy.
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.