The parents of a boy with brain damage, seizures and other severe impairments are seeking $50 million in damages for their son's disabilities, which they say happened when a California doctor botched a vacuum extraction procedure during a cesarean section.
The lawsuit was filed recently in federal court against the federal government over the boy's birth at an Army hospital in California. According to the civil complaint, the mother was full term and considered a low-risk patient when she went to the hospital to deliver her first child.
Problems Arise After Vacuum Extraction
After labor started, the baby was found to be in a position that made progress during delivery impossible. The baby was then delivered by C-section. During the procedure, the doctor used a suction apparatus called a vacuum extractor. During vacuum extraction, a doctor places a cup with a handle and a vacuum pump on the baby's head to help with vaginal delivery.
The baby had swelling, an abrasion and blistering near the area where the vacuum had been placed. When the swelling shifted areas, a nurse called a pediatrician, who also noted a progression of swelling. Caregivers found other symptoms of neonatal shock, including rapid breathing and a rapid heart rate.
The baby was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit at another hospital, where a neonatologist diagnosed him with subgaleal hemorrhage and cephalohematoma - both dealing with blood in the brain - relating to the vacuum extraction
Parents Allege Negligence
The boy's parents allege that the doctor applied the extractor incorrectly to their son's head, injuring the veins and causing hemorrhage, a known complication of vacuum extraction.
The baby has permanent brain injury, a seizure disorder, hemiparetic cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Several months later, he was readmitted to the hospital, where a gastronomy tube was placed and remained for nine months. The boy has difficulty talking, swallowing and walking despite receiving multiple types of therapy. He still has seizures. Therapy and other medical care will improve his condition, the complaint says, but the boy has a lifelong disability due to his neurological problems.
To succeed in the delivery negligence claim, the family's attorney must prove that the doctor's or hospital's actions fell below a commonly accepted standard of medical care and that this caused their baby's cerebral palsy and other injuries. These cases can be challenging and time-consuming to prove, requiring the use of medical experts to prove both the standard of care and that a failure to meet it caused the baby's injuries.
Source: J.D., Davis & Davis v. United States of America, 2012 WL 4442364 (C.D.Cal.)(Trial Pleading)