Bruce Keplinger and Emily Tung of Norris Keplinger Hicks & Welder, successfully represented an ob/gyn in a medical malpractice case in Jackson County, Missouri. The plaintiff was a ten year old boy who was born prematurely and had periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) and cerebral palsy. The infant was delivered at 29 weeks 3 days by emergency c-section. At trial the plaintiff argued that the c-section should have occurred sooner and that if it had occurred earlier, any such injury would have been avoided.
Initially, defendants delayed delivery to allow steroids to strengthen the baby’s lungs. However, after performing an ultrasound, Dr. Gray (a co-defendant and maternal fetal medicine specialist) recommended delivery as soon as possible, but not emergently. Dr. Carter agreed with Dr. Gray’s assessment and proceeded to make arrangements to deliver the baby. Plaintiff claimed Defendants stated no operating rooms were available except for emergency delivery and, because Dr. Carter did not state it was an emergency, delivery was delayed. At 12:17, spontaneous rupture of the membranes occurred, at 12:21 the plaintiff’s mother was in the ER, and the baby was born at 12:35. Plaintiff brought suit claiming another OR had been available and that the baby should have been delivered sooner to prevent this injury.
Plaintiffs’ experts testified that the standard of care required delivery before there was a spontaneous rupture of membranes and as a result, the plaintiff suffered an acute hypoxic ischemic event occurring from 12:17 to 12:35. Defendants’ experts said that emergent delivery was not required because the fetal heart rate tracings were reassuring. Defendants’ experts also disputed causation and contented that the baby’s PVL was caused by placenta abnormalities and caused by post-natal events.
On November 9, 2018, after a 10 day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defense.