Baby Sustained Brain Injury After Placental Abruption Was Not Detected By Nurse


A number of problems that might manifest in a pregnancy pose significant health threats of injury to the unborn infant. A placental abruption comes about if the placenta detaches prematurely from the pregnant woman’s uterus. Indications of a placental abruption include continuous contractions, uterus pain, abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. When a pregnant woman suffers a placental abruption late in the pregnancy fast action, such as an emergency C-section, may need to be taken to protect the wellbeing of her unborn child.

An expectant mother arrived at the hospital in beginning phases of labor. She, who was only 19 years of age, was admitted to the hospital complaining of persistent abdominal pain. The expectant mother was examined by an obstetrics nurse who documented that she had a hard abdomen and exhibited constant uterine contractions.

A short time later, she also began having considerable vaginal bleeding. Instead of alerting a hospital obstetrician the obstetrics nurse actually instructed the mother get additional towels from the linen closet in the room and keep swapping them herself.

In addition to the bleeding and contraction pattern (which are known symptoms of a placental abruption) the expectant mother started having severe pain (a known symptom of a placental abruption) after being at the hospital for approximately four to five hours.Again, the obstetrics nurse failed to notify a doctor. Rather the nurse administered pain medication. Five minutes later, the baby’s fetal heart monitor was flat. Yet, the nurse still did not notify a doctor.The nurse merely saw this development not as a ominous sign that the baby was in a highly dangerous condition but as a reaction to the pain medication given to the expectant mother. The nurse failed to contact a doctor until fifty minutes after the fetal monitor went flat.

After arriving the physician found the existence of meconium and also found that the heart rate monitor showed progressive deep decelerations. The attending obstetrician then arrived and performed an emergency C-section with only local anesthesia as the situation was too urgent to wait for the anesthesiologist to arrive. With the extraordinary need for speed at this point and given that an anesthesiologist was not available the attending performed the emergency C-section using only local anesthesia. As the doctor was delivering the baby via C-section the doctor found that there had been a placental abruption that had cut off the supply of oxygen to the unborn baby. The doctor observed signs of resulting neurological damage to the baby later established by radiographic testing. In time, it was discovered that the child was developmentally and mentally retarded.

A malpractice case was pursued on behalf of the parents and the child alleging that the harm to the child was avoidable had the nurse recognized that there was a serious complication in the pregnancy and notified a physician of the situation. In an attempt to lessen the amount of the settlement, the defense argued that the child was only expected to live to be approximately 10 years old and would not benefit from the therapy so the cost of the therapy should not be part of the settlement. The child needs occupations therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. The law firm that represented the parents announced that they obtained a settlement of $ 1.1 Million, of which $ 60,000 was for the mother and father, and the remainder was for the child. A portion of the settlement was structured in surch a way that the child would have an steady income stream into the future.