Defense Verdict in Brain-Damaged Baby/Maternal Death Lawsuit
Our client was an obstetrician. His patient was 38 weeks pregnant, and at a routinely scheduled office visit, her blood pressure was found to be elevated. The obstetrician ordered observation of her at a local hospital and later admitted her for induction of labor. His admitting orders included Magnesium sulfater as prophylaxis against seizures, but because she was only mildly pre-eclamptic, he did not order a loading dose, or bolus. Five hours into the hospitalization, she complained of being hot, started to cough, became short of breath, and suffered a respiratory arrest and a seizure. The obstetrician was summoned to the code blue, and shortly after he arrived, the patient went into asystole. Rather than performing an immediate perimortem Cesarean section delivery, the obstetrician allowed CPR and chest compressions to continue. Maternal heart rate was restored for a time and lost again. The doctor delivered the baby by Cesarean section 17 minutes after his arrival at the patient’s bedside.
The patient never fully recovered and died 17 days later in the intensive care unit at another hospital. The baby experience neonatal seizures shortly after birth, and sustained a brain injury.
At trial, Plaintiff claimed that the doctor was negligent in failing to order a loading dose of magnesium sulfate to prevent eclamptic seizures, and that he failed to perform the perimortem Cesarean section delivery in a timely fashion. The defense claimed that the doctor’s conduct was reasonable, and that the patient died of an amniotic fluid embolus, rather than a seizure from eclampsia. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated three hours and found the case for the defense. Attorney Matt Maddox second-chaired the case.