Members Randy Hall, Gary Green and Thomas Nichols: Jury Awards 6.4 Million on Cerebral Palsy Case
An Independence County, Arkansas jury awarded 6.4 Million Dollars to an hispanic couple whose child suffered permanent brain damage due to failed communications by and between the obstetrician and the nurse who was managing the patient. The facts are as follows:
37 year old multitip, no epidural, admitted for augmentation of labor. Pitocin started at 3:00am night before the critical day. Dr. at bedside at 9:04am and breaks water. There were Immediate decelerations that lasted all day until the 3:30pm emergency C-section that came too late.
Nurse recognizes and alerts Dr at 9:20 am who pronounces them to be “earlies” but orders nurse to call her if they don’t resolve. 13 minutes later Nurse turns her to left, 14 minutes later to the right and then reduces pitocin by 1/2. Decels continue.
At 10:20am nurse calls clinic and speaks to clinic nurse and gives “call me ASAP” message which Dr. denied at trial. Dr calls back at 10:26 and nurse informs of decels which Dr. also denied. Dr. testified in was “merely an update on dilitation which was 8.5. . After the call, Pit was turned off. Dr. testified the only information exchanged was “she is fine.” and dilitation report.
11:20 nurse calls back to report decels and anterior lip. No orders.
12:04 Dr calls L &D and tells nurse to start pushing. Nurse reports decels again and tells Dr., she is too tired to push. Dr., according to nurse, says “what do you want me to do, come over and cut her or what?”. pitocin restarted 6 minutes after this call.
Phones go silent from 12:04 until 2:57 when dr “looked down at her watch, was expecting a call, and wanted to know what was going on.” Calls L & D and nurse reports decels, that she is ready. After call, nurse puts mother in Lithotomy position and testified that you cant do that unless Dr is on the way. 20 minutes go by and dr does not appear. nurse calls stat. by then it was too late. Baby born with massive brain damage. Loss of sight, arm movement, little head control. wheelchair bound.
1. Dr alleged that nurse restarted the pitocin after the noon call without an order and continued it from 10 to 20 “relentlessly” when she should have d/c under standing orders. Nurse did NOT chart the order but denied same.
2. Dr. testified, “had I known about the “repetitive early decels that occurred between 9 and 10:00am I would have gone to see my patient and “most probably” performed a C-section at that time.
3. Nurse took the stand, unrepresented, and testified that she breached the SOC in two ways: a) “I suck at charting” (seriously, she said it 3 times, and b) I should have invoked the chain of command.
4. Defense was on the old “eyes and ears” routine and how the Dr. gets to “trust” the nurse and it’s the nurses responsibility to inform the doctor of the FHS.