Case Studies

Birth-injury lawsuit settled for $5 million

By Jamie Loo | Law Bulletin staff writer | February 28, 2014

A hospital and doctor have agreed to pay a combined $5 million to settle a Cook County lawsuit filed by the mother of a boy who suffered a brain injury at birth and developed cerebral Palsy.

A 24-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who doesn’t speak English, went into lab or on July 24, 2006, at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. During the course of her labor, a certified nurse midwife and nurses monitored the fetus’ heart rate and administered Pitocin to aid in the mother’s contractions.

More than 12 hours later, the certified nurse midwife determined that the patient needed to have a vacuum delivery.

Her doctor arrived and within a few minutes began using the vacuum to help deliver the baby. When the baby’ s head emerged, the umbilical cord was loosely wrapped around the baby’ s neck and a portion of it was squeezed between the baby’s shoulders and his mother’s vaginal opening.

“The cord was compressed, so there was no blood flowing to the baby and therefore no oxygen,” said the attorney, Katherine A. Cardenas of Lucas and Cardenas P.C.

It took several maneuvers to get the baby out and five minutes later, the baby was delivered dead.

Cardenas said a neonatal response team revived the baby and he was immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit where he remained for 29 days.

The baby sustained an anoxic/hypoxic injury, or loss of oxygen, to the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is the portion of the brain that controls movement. As a result, he has cerebral Palsy.

The lawsuit alleged that Northwest Community Hospital failed to provide properly trained nursing staff to monitor the labor and delivery. Cardenas also argued that they failed to properly assess the condition of the patient and the fetus before proceeding with a vacuum delivery and failed to perform a timely cesarean section.

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