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$8.45M Awarded for Resuscitation Delay Causing Infant's Cerebral Palsy

The hospital's errors caused severe developmental delays, cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, disfigurement, inability to walk or talk, and the need for a tube feeding through his stomach.

A Georgia jury delivered a verdict of $8.45 million against a hospital where the staff deviated from an appropriate standard of care by failing to seek the help of an on-call obstetrician and emergency resuscitation team, resulting in severe brain injuries including cerebral palsy to an infant during his birth.

Jakob Medley was born in Gainesville, GA on November 16, 2008. According to court records, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times, restricting his oxygen and reducing his fetal heart rate.  Emergency resuscitation was delayed because the hospital staff’s failed to notify the resuscitation team promptly.

Obstetrician was never consulted

Jakob’s mother, Heather Medley, arrived at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center the evening before Jakob’s birth under the care of codefendant nurse midwives Ruth Sherry and Monica Bagwell.

The next morning after Medley’s water broke, a fetal monitor showed that unborn Jakob was “experiencing a period of insufficient oxygen or blood flow” as indicated by “drops in his heart rate...and changes in the baseline heart rate,” according to the court ruling.

Nurse midwives Sherry and Bagwell attempted intrauterine resuscitation, which is an intervention used to increase oxygen delivery to the placenta and umbilical blood flow.   Even after attempted interventions, Jakob’s heart rate pattern was a cause for concern, according to court documents.

Even so, the nurse midwives never consulted the on-call obstetrician for advice or to perform a cesarean section.  The court documents indicate that In the subsequent hours leading up to delivery, the nurse midwives did not notify  or request the care of the resuscitation team until one minute before Jakob was delivered.

Violated the standard of care

According to the Medley’s attorneys Gerald Jowers and Kenneth Suggs of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC, the nurse midwives actions violated the standard of care required during the intrapartum period in which the fetal monitor showed signs of distress, yet the hospital did not provide the necessary interventions.

The nurse midwives’ disregard for the standard of care and the severe delay in resuscitation treatment resulted in the “poor response to eventual intubation” provided to Jakob’s “pale” and “floppy” body, as described in the ruling.  According to court documents, defendant Northeast Georgia Medical Center indicated that the “resuscitative efforts, which included a neonatologist, went on for in excess of 45 minutes” did not prevent the severe brain injuries to Jakob.

Cerebral palsy is typically caused by fetal brain damage occurring during pregnancy.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 70 percent of cerebral palsy cases are the result of prenatal factors and less than 10 percent of cases are due to lack of oxygen at birth. Jakob’s injuries could have been avoided if he did not have to wait for the delayed emergency resuscitation care rendered.

Lack of care caused brain injury

The negligence of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and its nurse midwife employees in violating the standard of care during Jakob’s labor and delivery resulted in his brain injury.  The injuries caused “severe developmental delays, cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder,” and other lifelong impairments including disfigurement, inability to walk or talk, and the need for a tube feeding through his stomach.

The jury found the Northeast Georgia Medical Center negligent in adhering to standards of care while delivering Jakob.  The jury assigned 100 percent of the fault to the Medical Center and awarded Jakob Medley and his guardian an $8.45 million for pain and suffering and future care and medical expenses for the rest of his life.

The case is Medley vs. Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Civil Action 125V362N, filed in State Court of Hall County, Georgia.

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