When a Washington State woman read about a special program being offered by Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) Hospital to woman desiring a vaginal delivery for breech babies (babies in the womb who present buttocks or feet closest to the cervix) despite the fact that she had already scheduled a cesarean delivery at a Washington hospital, she arranged to consult with the doctors at OHSU Hospital to determine if she was a candidate for vaginal delivery.
The woman checked herself into OHSU Hospital on September 19, 2011 and two days later her son was born by vaginal delivery but he suffered catastrophic, permanent, and irreversible brain damage due to medical errors, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the woman and her husband. The couple claim that they relied on the defendants’ assurances that the woman was a good candidate for vaginal delivery and that a cesarean section delivery would be performed if it became necessary. The couple’s malpractice lawsuit seeks $25.6 million in economic and noneconomic damages.
The Oregon medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the defendants continued with the vaginal delivery despite the baby’s abnormal heart rate that lasted twenty minutes. The malpractice claim also alleges that the defendants failed to promptly resuscitate the baby at birth. The baby had seizures shortly after his birth and was diagnosed the next day with a severe brain injury due to oxygen deprivation during his birth. The child also suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of the lack of oxygen during his delivery.
According to a July 2006 Committee Opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which Opinion was reaffirmed in 2012, “The decision regarding the mode of delivery should depend on the experience of the health care provider. Cesarean delivery will be the preferred mode of delivery for most physicians because of the diminishing expertise in vaginal breech delivery. Obstetricians should offer and perform external cephalic version whenever possible. Planned vaginal delivery of a term singleton breech fetus may be reasonable under hospital-specific protocol guidelines for both eligibility and labor management. In those instances in which breech vaginal deliveries are pursued, great caution should be exercised, and detailed patient informed consent should be documented. Before embarking on a plan for a vaginal breech delivery, women should be informed that the risk of perinatal or neonatal mortality or short-term serious neonatal morbidity may be higher than if a cesarean delivery is planned … The number of practitioners with the skills and experience to perform vaginal breech delivery has decreased. Even in academic medical centers where faculty support for teaching vaginal breech delivery to residents remains high, there may be insufficient volume of vaginal breech deliveries to adequately teach this procedure.”
At the time the Washington woman had read about the OHSU Hospital program offering vaginal delivery for breech babies, the hospital had successfully delivered six breech babies by vaginal delivery.
If you and/or your baby suffered serious injuries as a result of medical mistakes made during labor or delivery in Oregon or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with an Oregon medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) to learn about the process of filing a medical malpractice claim.
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