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$10.24 Million Settlement for Negligent Obstetrics Case in New York

Attorneys Carol Nelson Shepherd and Patricia M. Giordano represented a mother, who was close to term and was admitted to her local hospital for further evaluation including a biophysical profile after alerting her obstetrician to decreased fetal movement. Upon initial electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) at the hospital, the strip showed intermittently non-reassuring results and the mother began to experience occasional contractions. Cervidil was inserted to ripen the cervix; however, the biophysical profile was never performed.

Despite the fact that the EFM became increasingly non-reassuring, neither the nurse nor the senior resident responsible for the mother alerted the obstetrician who, with a junior resident, was attending to another patient.  Rather, the nurse and senior resident “pointed the finger” at each other.  Further testimony revealed that instead of attending to the mother, the senior resident was sitting at a computer in the central nursing station paging the junior resident to get her to come check on the mother. By the time the obstetrician learned the status of his patient and came to her bedside, the fetus was severely bradycardic. Despite being delivered within a matter of minutes following the doctor’s arrival, the infant’s Apgar’s were 0, 0, and 2, and she suffered severe hypoxic ischemia causing cerebral palsy and all of the other sequela that follow such a diagnosis.

This case resulted in a two-part settlement. At a very early stage of litigation, it was settled for a substantial sum as against the hospital. Plaintiff’s counsel then proceeded to depose the attending obstetricians, who had conflicting reports of the events, and a subsequent settlement was arrived at as to them. The case was unique because of its qualification for involvement in the New York Medical Indemnity Fund (MIF), which provides compensation for all future medical expenses on behalf of any child injured at birth as a result of medical negligence.