Patient alleges malpractice during delivery at ALMC
Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 21, 2002
Parents of a disabled baby have sued Albert Lea Medical Center in county district court, claiming a treatment during labor caused the handicap.
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Parents of a disabled baby have sued Albert Lea Medical Center in county district court, claiming a treatment during labor caused the handicap. They charged the hospital, a doctor and two nurses with malpractice, asking $100,000 for the damage. In a hearing Wednesday, attorneys for both sides debated the validity of the charge.
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According to a complaint and medical review submitted by the plaintiff, the baby girl was born at 9:21 p.m. Nov. 12, 1998 with significant brain damage due to the alleged malpractice.
As a result, the baby has been displaying hypoxic ischemic encephalopthy, prenatal asphyxia, delayed motor development and other symptoms, all of which will be permanent, the plaintiff contends.
The plaintiff attributes the brain damage to failures in monitoring the patient, diagnosing a dysfunctional labor pattern, responding to abnormal fetal heart rate patterns, and performing appropriate fetal screening testing. It is also indicated that the hospital mismanaged the administration of Pitocin, a drug used to help labor by contracting the uterus.
The $100,000 claim consists of $50,000 for paying medical and hospital expenses, and $50,000 for compensating the parents’ hardship.
The doctor refuted the charges in his answer to the complaint, asserting he provided reasonable and appropriate care to both the mother and baby, consistent with accepted standards of care.
Albert Lea Medical Center declined to comment.
After the court dismissed part of the charge asserting the responsibility of unidentified nurses who attended to the labor, the plaintiff added the two nurses to the complaint in January.
The defense attorney, Joshua B. Murphy, has insisted that the charge is not valid.
According to him, state law stipulates an expert review accompanied with a malpractice charge needs to be disclosed within 180 days after the commencement of the case. The law also requires the plaintiff to identify each defendant’s act or omissions that allegedly violated the care standard.
Murphy also contests the addition of two nurses as defendants, pointing out the previous court order has already precluded them to be sued.
The medical review by Dr. Harlan Giles, Board of Directors at Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Pa., indicates the mother was admitted for the induction of labor around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, 1998. She was at the 38th week of pregnancy.
A bradycardia, or slow heart rate, of the fetus began around 3 p.m., and the doctor ordered to interrupt administering of Pitocin. During the labor, the doctor assessed the patient at 11:45 a.m., 2:10 p.m., 4:05 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., according to the record.
A discharge summary by the hospital quoted by the plaintiff says, &uot;The baby was severely stressed with apnea and required bag breathing for an hour and the baby slowly responded. It was fully 10 minutes before any movement occurred.&uot;
Judge John Chesterman has ruled that the review satisfies the legal requirement regarding the cause of action against the doctor, and will rule if the addition of defendants is adequate.