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Delivering Life
Changing Experiences

Uncovering a Cover-Up

The preterm delivery of a girl suffering from cerebral palsy prompts an investigation.

The parents of a young girl who had been delivered extremely preterm wondered whether anything could and should have been done to avoid her preterm delivery, which caused their daughter to be legally blind and suffer cerebral palsy.

We obtained the prenatal records and the records of the suburban hospital where she had been delivered and had them reviewed by an expert who indicated that she could see no departures from accepted standards of care.

But we decided to dig deeper. Following the delivery, the baby had been transferred to a local children’s specialty hospital, so we ordered the records to find out what happened after the birth. After poring over the voluminous records, we found one note that mentioned something about an esophageal intubation.

When an individual is intubated, the tube is supposed to go into the trachea, not the esophagus. We followed up to get the records of the transport from the suburban hospital to the children’s hospital, and learned from them that when the personnel from the children’s hospital arrived at the suburban hospital to pick up the baby, they discovered that the baby’s endotracheal tube was in the esophagus and not the trachea. This had not been detected by the healthcare providers there despite the fact that the baby’s condition and her blood gasses, which reveal adequate or inadequate oxygenation, were horrible.

Shockingly, no one at the suburban hospital had told the parents about any of this. Although the personnel from the children’s hospital immediately removed the tube from the esophagus and intubated her appropriately, she had been without oxygen for too long a period of time.

We were able to prove that this extended lack of oxygen was the cause of her blindness and cerebral palsy, not her prematurity, and obtained a substantial settlement for the young girl.