Head entrapment in premature baby
DURING BREECH VAGINAL DELIVERY of a premature infant, the child’s head became entrapped. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist was called in. Delivery took 22 minutes. The child has cerebral palsy, with severe developmental delays, and requires a gastrostomy tube and tracheotomy.
PATIENT’S CLAIM Lack of oxygen for 22 minutes before delivery caused brain damage. Inappropriate maneuvers used by the physicians and nurses to relieve head entrapment also contributed to the injury. An emergency cesarean delivery should have been performed when vaginal delivery was delayed.
DEFENDANTS’ DEFENSE The appropriate maneuvers were performed to release the entrapped head. The child’s problems were due to her prematurity and fetal inflammatory response syndrome.
VERDICT In Illinois, a summary judgment was granted for the maternal-fetal medicine physician. A directed verdict was given for one nurse. A jury returned a defense verdict for the hospital, a labor and delivery nurse, and one of the ObGyns. The jury deadlocked on the claims against a second ObGyn.