Newborn Brain Injury Due to Avoidable Preterm Birth
Lawsuit Against Christiana Hospital
On February 21, 2023, WVFK&N attorneys Brian Cathell and Catherine Spalluzzi filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that on November 20, 2017, the mother presented to the Delaware Center for Maternal and Fetal Medicine as referred. She had a screening for risks of pre-term labor, including a transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound examination. The transvaginal universal screening cervical length ultrasound was performed, and the doctor determined that the transvaginal cervical length was “short” at 23.6 mm (range 23.6 – 25.4 mm). Funneling was noted with a funnel width at the internal cervical os of 11.1 mm. There was no ultrasound evidence of a chromosomal or other abnormality. The doctor discussed the short cervix and increased risk for preterm delivery. He recommended vaginal progesterone and wrote her a prescription. The mother filled that prescription within the day. Her treating physicians recommended serial cervical length measurements every week until 26 weeks gestation. The doctor did not discuss or recommend a cerclage. Over the course of the next month, the ultrasound studies demonstrated worsening cervical shortening and funneling of the cervix, consistent with a risk for preterm birth. At no point in time between November 27, 2017, and prior to December 15, 2017, when the Defendants were aware of the cervical insufficiency, and the fact that she was failing vaginal progesterone therapy, which would put her at higher risk of preterm labor, did the Defendants recommend or place a cerclage or rescue cerclage as required by the standard of care. In fact, they recommended against a cerclage or rescue cerclage. On or about December 15, 2017, the mother experienced preterm premature rupture of membranes. She presented to Christiana Hospital and was admitted as an inpatient to the Perinatal Special Care Unit. Another transvaginal cervical length ultrasound was performed. It showed gestational age to be 23 weeks and 1 day. The cervix was 4 cm dilated. The mother was given betamethasone on December 15 and 16 and magnesium sulfate on December 15, as well as latency antibiotics. From the evening of January 5 to the morning of January 6, 2018, the mother was put on continuous fetal monitoring. Due to recurrent Category 2 fetal heart tracings a cesarean section was performed on the morning of January 6, 2018. The baby was delivered at 26 weeks and 3 days gestation. The baby was born limp and apneic at or about 7:22 a.m. He had no tone, no respiratory effort, and no heart sounds. He required intubation, chest compressions, and an umbilical venous catheter. APGAR scores were 0, 1 and 2 at one, five, and ten minutes, respectively. The baby suffered from bilateral grade 2 intraventricular hemorrhage in his brain due to prematurity. The baby has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia/cerebral palsy.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Christiana Hospital and its employees in failing to recommend or offer the placement of a cervical cerclage.
The action is pending in the Superior Court for the State of Delaware.