Six-figure settlement in fetal death case in Allegheny County.
Plaintiff was 20 years old and in the 41st week (overdue) in her first pregnancy. She went to the hospital for a scheduled, induced labor and delivery. An ultrasound confirmed that the fetus was healthy on the evening she was admitted and before they started to induce labor. The nursing staff turned off the fetal monitor for five hours through the night to allow the mother to sleep undisturbed.
There was no fetal heart beat when the fetal monitor was restarted the next morning. The mother went on to deliver a still-born baby with a larger sized head.
Later investigation confirmed that the fetus’ head was too large to pass through the mother’s birth canal because she had fractured both legs as a child and the healing had deformed her pelvis. Plaintiff’s experts would have testified that the treating OB/GYN knew of the risk of small pelvic size and failed to order an ultrasound to compare pelvic size to expected fetal size, and also failed to treat the delivery as high risk based upon the mother’s history. Plaintiff’s experts would also have testified that the nursing staff should not have disconnected the fetal monitor as this deprived the physicians of their last opportunity to save the endangered fetus.
This case settled for a large sum prior to trial.