ArticlesCauses of Birth Injuries

Failure to Diagnose a Condition Affecting Pregnancy, Birth, or Delivery

By November 24, 2015 No Comments

Ultrasound of fetusDoctors Are Extraordinary and Talented Professionals, But They Are Also Human

We trust our medical health care providers to help us when we are sick, injured, as well as during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  We trust that they know best, and are up-to-date on medical information and techniques.  We also assume that if they are properly educated, licensed, and have a good track record with patients that they will provide the best of care us as well.

Unfortunately, medical professionals and midwives are human, and humans can and do make mistakes.  When those mistakes are due to negligence and carelessness and result in an injury to a mother and/or her baby, there can be terrible consequences for both the baby and the mother.  In these situations, you may be able to hold the provider accountable for their mistake so that you do not have to bear the financial burdens associated with the injury or your loss.

Standards of Care Change Over Time

As much as society as a whole benefits from the expertise and help from doctors and other valued health care professionals, they are human, and some are better than others at providing care.  However, all doctors must adhere to certain standards of care when treating patients to help ensure the safety of all concerned, but standards do change, and doctors do have their own way of doing things which may lead to errors in judgment.

For example, in the early 1900s, women giving birth were often put into a “twilight sleep” — a state in which a woman in labor was likely to be given a combination of morphine (for pain relief) and scopolmaine (a drug that inhibits memory of events).  This practice was once thought to be safe; an advancement in medicine, but we now know that this was anything but beneficial to women and their babies.

Today, women are more vocal about how their pregnancies, and their own labor and delivery, and standards have care are now safer and more reasonable.  Still, when a doctor fails to notice a condition or react properly during a medical emergency, the outcome can be just as bad for a mother and her baby as it was one hundred years ago.

Here are some of the conditions that may result in serious complications, birth defects, or even death if a doctor or other attending medical caregiver fails to diagnose and properly treat:

  • Placenta Abruption
  • Pre-Eclampsia
  • Breech births, jacknife birth, or a fetus that is too large for vaginal birth
  • Fetal distress
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Maternal distress including internal bleeding, stroke, heart attack
  • Infections in the mother
  • Gestational diabetes in the mother
  • Allergies to medications (mother)

Sample Verdicts and Settlements

$4.5 Million In Medical Malpractice Case For Failure To Diagnose Placental Abruption

Los Angeles, Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Attorneys


Attorney: Thomas E. Donahue

Amount Recovered:  $4,500,000

Case Summary:  Child and parents recover $4,500,000 from hospital for failure to diagnose a placental abruption and delayed delivery of baby resulting in brain injury.

Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Case Description

In 2004, Thomas E. Donahue’s clients recovered $4,500,000 from a hospital as a result of malpractice by the nursing staff. The case involved a term pregnant mother who was at home when she started experiencing contractions. However, shortly before she arrived at the hospital the pain became severe and unrelenting. She went immediately went to labor and delivery and told the admitting nurse that she had severe pain and that something was wrong.

The nurse failed to call the obstetrician and proceeded as though there was no emergency. After a significant delay, the nurse started monitoring the fetal heart rate and saw the fetus was in distress. The nurse notified the obstetrician.

Prior to the attending obstetrician’s arrival at the hospital, another obstetrician on the unit intervened and delivered the child by c-section and saved the child’s life. Unfortunately, the child suffered severe brain injury from a lack of oxygen and requires round the clock and will be permanently disabled for life. The child and his parents received $4,500,000.

$1 Million in Settlement Against Obstetrician For Failure To Diagnose Pre-Eclampsia

Attorney: Thomas E. Donahue

Settlement:  $1,000,000

Case Summary:  Young adult woman receives $1,000,000 from obstetrician for failure to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia.

Medical Malpractice Case Description

Thomas E. Donahue litigated a case for a young adult woman who suffered brain injury as a result of her Obstetricians failure to diagnose and treat Pre-Eclampsia. The client was pregnant and was about one month from her due date when she began experiencing headaches and swelling in her arms and legs. During her last prenatal appointment a urinalysis revealed she had protein in her urine.

Despite signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia, the obstetrician did nothing to diagnose her condition. Within days of that last visit, the patient suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, and suffered brain injury. The child was delivered and, although had difficulties after birth, did fine thereafter. The Obstetrician agreed to a settlement for $1,000,000 which was the limits of his insurance policy.

$2.68 Million Settlement Against Hospital And Obstetrician For Failure To Deliver Fetus In Distress In Timely Manner

Orange and Los Angeles County Birth Injury Attorneys


AttorneyThomas E. Donahue

Settlement Amount:  $2,680,000

Case Summary:  Minor child and his parents received $2,680,000 from obstetrician and hospital for negligent delay in delivering baby causing brain injury.

Case Description

In 2003, Thomas E. Donahue’s clients received $2,680,000 from a hospital and obstetrician for their failure to timely deliver a fetus in distress. The case involved a term pregnant woman who was admitted to the hospital for induction of labor. The patient was given medication to induce and the labor proceeded without complications. However, the expectant mother started experiencing uterine hyperstimulation (a condition in which the contractions occur too frequently and cause stress on the fetus.)

The nursing staff failed to timely address the hyperstimulation by calling the obstetrician immediately and give medication to slow the contractions. The nurse eventually called the obstetrician, but failed to fully inform him of the true nature of the emergency and failed to tell him to come to the hospital immediately. By the time the obstetrician arrived at the Hospital, the fetus was in distress and required delivery by emergency c-section. The child suffered brain injury from a extended period of oxygen deprivation. The obstetrician and the hospital paid a total of $2,680,000 in settlement prior to trial.


Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today And Get The Legal Help You Need

When there is reason to suspect that medical malpractice was the ultimate cause of injury, the victim may have a legal claim for compensation. Whether minor or severe, whether because of surgery in an adult or anoxic brain injury in a baby during birth, a brain injury that occurred during medical treatment often leaves unanswered questions. At Donahue & Horrow, L.L.P., you will find a skilled and experienced lawyer who will fight to get you the answers you need.

If medical negligence or error led to a brain injury or wrongful death of a loved one, our experienced and compassionate medical malpractice attorneys can help you get the answers you need.  The firm has substantial experience assisting clients in brain injury cases caused by medication errors, surgical errors, emergency room errors, birth injury and anesthesia errors, including:

  • Allergic reactions to medication or the administration of contraindicated medications;
  • Feeding tube and incubator tube errors resulting in oxygen deprivation to the brain (negligent intubation);
  • Failure to resuscitate;
  • ICU nursing errors;
  • Failure to monitor the condition of a fetus during labor, resulting in birth injury such as cerebral palsy.

All medical malpractice cases are handled on a contingency fee basis — there will be no attorneys fees for you to pay unless or until we obtain compensation for you.  To schedule a free and informative consultation regarding a brain injury that may have been caused by medical negligence or malpractice, contact Donahue & Horrow today.