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Parents file malpractice suit for failing to monitor baby's heart

North Carolina mothers with relatively uncomplicated pregnancies probably don't expect things to go wrong during birth. Unfortunately, one family is dealing the consequences of apparent medical negligence that caused their son to develop a form of cerebral palsy. In response to the doctor's failure to pay attention to the baby's slowing heart rate, the family has filed a medical malpractice claim against their health care providers.

It wasn't until labor began that this expecting mother experienced difficulties. When the woman was 38 weeks along with her pregnancy, she and her doctors decided to induce labor. At that time, the woman questioned the wisdom of mixing two particular drugs to trigger the labor, but doctors reassured her that everything was fine. As labor began, the baby's heart rate strip indicated a low heart rate and hospital staff noted this occurrence, but did nothing about it. Eventually, complications led to an emergency Caesarean section and the woman's uterus ruptured. The baby's heart continued to beat too slowly after he was born.

After the birth, the baby boy was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia, which is a type of cerebral palsy. The family believes this ailment, along with other illnesses the boy experienced in the initial weeks of his life, were a result of the medical staff's failure to do determine whether the baby's low heart rate would lead to serious birth-related injuries.

The initial lawsuit filing includes a claim for $75,000 in damages due to medical negligence. As the court date approaches, that amount can be adjusted to suit the family's needs. Hospital officials have refused to comment on the case at this time.

If the baby's mother held concerns about the birthing procedure and her baby's heart rate, why didn't doctors indicate the slightest bit of alarm? Patients are usually not the ones with medical training, so it is not their responsibility to call the shots during procedures. As a result of the doctor's failure to accurately gauge what was going on during labor, this young boy will be living with central nervous system damage that will undoubtedly make his life more difficult.

Source: Morning Sun, "Medical malpractice suit filed against two physicians, hospital," Eric Swanson, March 10, 2012

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