Negligent performance of VBAC

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Recent Cases: Medicine

November/December 2012, Volume 27, No. 6

Negligent performance of VBAC 

Doe v. Roe Hosp., Confidential Dkt. No. and Jxn., July 31, 2012.

Doe received prenatal care from a midwife employed by Roe hospital clinic. Before her due date, Doe signed a consent form for a vaginal birth after prior cesarean section (VBAC). She was later admitted to the hospital for delivery.

Although initially reassuring, the fetal monitor later became non-reassuring, and cord compression occurred. The labor and delivery midwife notified the attending physician, who obtained Doe’s consent for a cesarean section and performed an amnioinfusion, which improved the baby’s condition somewhat. Signs of fetal distress continued, however, and the midwife delivered Doe’s daughter vaginally. The child’s Apgar scores were two at one minute and six at five minutes. Now 4, she cannot walk, requires a feeding tube, and has been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy and cognitive deficits.

Doe sued the hospital, alleging liability for the midwives’ negligent performance of a VBAC and the treating physician’s failure to perform a timely cesarean section during the eight-hour delivery. Suit charged that several factors, including Doe’s morbid obesity and recent cesarean section, made a VBAC ill advised, and that the prenatal midwife failed to inform a physician that Doe was considering a VBAC.

The defense argued that a cesarean section had not been warranted and that Doe had not experienced uterine rupture, the main risk factor for a VBAC.

The parties settled for $3.75 million.

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Jesse M. Reiter, Rebecca S. Walsh, and Juliana Sabatini Plastiras, all of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

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