Did low amniotic fluid cause cerebral palsy?
A BICORNUATE UTERUS and the infant’s breech position complicated a woman’s pregnancy. At her 39-week prenatal visit, testing showed a low amniotic fluid level, but the woman was sent home. Two days later, she went to the hospital in labor. Her ObGyn first allowed labor to proceed, then performed a cesarean delivery. The father recorded the birth on video camera. The baby was born “essentially lifeless” but with a weak heartbeat. The child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
PATIENT’S CLAIM A cesarean delivery should have been performed as soon as it was determined that the amniotic fluid level was low. During surgery, the ObGyn did not choose an incision location that would deliver the baby quickly. The recording evidenced that there was a delay in delivery.
PHYSICIAN’S DEFENSE Elective cesarean delivery was not necessary at the time of the patient’s last visit, as one is not performed before 40 weeks’ gestation. Cesarean delivery was appropriately performed. The baby had a good heart rate at birth. Brain damage was due to fetal inflammatory response syndrome.
VERDICT A $58 million Connecticut verdict was returned.