In what may be a hollow victory due to the lack of malpractice insurance to pay the judgment, a Michigan judge entered a default judgment in the amount of $5 million in favor of the parents of a newborn who died shortly after his birth in 2011, allegedly due to the medical negligence of the attending midwife at a Michigan birthing center.
The incident resulted in an investigation undertaken by Michigan state authorities, a finding of incompetence/negligence by the Michigan Board of Nursing, and the suspension of the midwife’s license that subsequently resulted in the voluntary surrender of her nursing license. The defendant midwife had her nursing license suspended once before: in 1995, after she was found by the Board to have been negligent in the homebirth of a newborn who weighed only four pounds.
The bereaved parents originally sued the birthing center and three of its midwives but decided to focus on the one midwife after all the midwives filed for bankruptcy protection after they were sued. The birthing center closed its doors within months of being sued, after which it was revealed in news reports that three other newborns had died at the birthing center.
The parents ordeal began when the wife decided that she wanted to have a more personal delivery than the one she previously had at a hospital, but she did not want to deliver at home. The birthing center option seemed to her to be the best choice for the delivery of her baby.
The wife was told by one of the midwives when she was 32 weeks pregnant that her baby was in the breech position. Five weeks later, an ultrasound confirmed the breech presentation. Despite this complication, the midwife advised the wife that it would be safe to attempt the vaginal delivery outside of a hospital setting.
When the wife went into labor on April 8, 2011, the baby’s head remained stuck in his mother’s birth canal despite nearly six hours of pushing. The parents allege that the defendant midwife attempted to pull the baby from the mother during a period of seven minutes, after which the baby was born blue and lifeless. Ineffective resuscitation efforts were begun and paramedics were called four minutes later.
The baby was in the hospital’s NICU for thirteen days, suffering from severe brain damage and multiple organ failure, before he succumbed to his injuries. The mother claims that the only time her newborn son opened his eyes was shortly before he died.
Statistics from the Michigan Department of Community Health reportedly indicate that in 2012, two percent of births in Michigan occurred outside of hospitals, which was double the rate from the prior year.
If your child suffered birth injuries that may be due to medical negligence, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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