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Birth Injury Lawsuit Against GW Hospital

A woman in Washington D.C. is filing a lawsuit alleging medical negligence against the George Washington University Hospital and staff related to birth injuries suffered by her son during labor. 

Spontaneous Delivery Instead of C-Section

Nicole Kilpatrick was 39-weeks pregnant when she began to experience contractions. She went to the GW hospital to deliver her son on New Year’s Eve, 2008. However, Kilpatrick was also suffering an intestinal strep infection at the time. 

At the hospital, the infant’s heart rate fluctuated drastically, as low as 30 beats per minute then going up above average. At times, the doctors also struggled to detect a heart rate or found no heartbeat at all. 

The lawsuit indicates the mother’s cervix failed to open for nearly two hours. Instead of opting for a cesarean delivery, or C-section, the doctors continued waiting for a vaginal birth. According to the lawsuit, Kilpatrick’s child was deprived of oxygen for an extended period in the womb, and was delivered in a flaccid state and doctors suctioned thick bodily waste below the child’s vocal cords. The mother and son were eventually discharged on January 3, 2009.  

Over 11 years later, the mother claims her child will continue to suffer physical pain, emotional pain, embarrassment, and humiliation related to the child’s birth injury. The lawsuit alleges that the child would have been born without brain damage if the defendants had performed a timely C-section.  

Deprived Oxygen During Labor

Lack of oxygen at birth can lead to developmental delays in children. Oxygen is vital for proper brain function at all ages. However, the brain of a fetus, infant, or child is extra sensitive to oxygen because the brain is still developing. Damage to a young brain can have long-lasting consequences and cause permanent injury and developmental delays. 

Hypoxia, or low oxygen supply, is one of the most serious consequences for a child during pregnancy and labor. According to the American Journal of Neuroradiology, between 2 and 10 out of every 1,000 newborns experience a lack of oxygen during birth. A quarter of all babies who suffer hypoxia will have permanent neurological issues. 

When there is a medical emergency during labor or pregnancy, a C-section may be medically necessary to save the life of the mother and/or the child. Complications like an infection, problems with the placenta, or diabetes may make a C-section more likely. During labor, if the child is in distress or the labor does not progress, a C-section may provide the best outcome for the child. 

A delayed C-section can increase the risk of brain damage or continued hypoxia during labor. When there is a lack of oxygen to the brain, time is of the essence. Brain cells can begin to die within minutes of a reduced oxygen supply. Brain damage may be permanent after only a few minutes. Any delay in delivery to get oxygen to the child’s brain can increase the chances that the child will suffer brain damage. 

Delayed Treatment for Fetal Distress During Labor

If your child suffered a birth injury because the doctors or hospital staff did not act quickly enough or follow the proper protocols, speak with a medical malpractice attorney for answers. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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