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L.Y., a minor v Anonymous Physician/Medical Center

Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $3,250,000 million on behalf of a child who now suffers from cerebral palsy and developmental delays after physicians failed to properly respond to complications in the labor and delivery process. Upon admission to the hospital, the defendant obstetrician diagnosed the plaintiff’s mother with pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH). Blood tests showed an elevation in liver enzymes and decreased platelets, which indicated a potentially severe form of PIH. The obstetrician decided to induce labor with Pitocin and placed the mother on an epidural without warning her of possible risks. The obstetrician then went home without ever discussing plans for fluid management with the defendant obstetrician. Over the next few hours, the mother’s platelet count continued to drop while her blood pressure continued to rise. At 4:25 a.m. her blood pressure began to drop and the fetal heart monitor displayed decelerations. 20 minutes later, the nurses called the anesthesiologist and the obstetrician, who was still at home. The obstetrician arrived at 5:05 a.m. and decided to proceed with vacuum delivery, rather than a Cesarean section. After repeatedly failing to deliver the baby by both vacuum and forceps, he finally decided to perform a C-section and delivered the baby at 6:24 a.m. The infant plaintiff was born with critically low vital signs and severe brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

The defendants argued that all care was within the proper standard of care and that there was no injury from the placement of the epidural. However, Dr. Fagel was able to show that the defendants were negligent and therefore responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries for a variety of reasons. First, the obstetrician was negligent for not managing the patient as a high risk delivery and performing a C-section prior to the onset of serious complications. He was additionally negligent for leaving the hospital without deciding who would manage the patient’s fluids, and was further negligent for not immediately proceeding to deliver the baby via C-section when he was called back to the hospital. Finally, the defendant anesthesiologist was negligent for failing to monitor the patient’s fluids and blood pressure during labor.