On August 9, 2009, a 21-year-old mother who had given birth by Cesarean section less than 24 hours earlier was exhausted from both the delivery and from the strong multiple pain medications given to her during the delivery. Nonetheless, the first-time mother wanted to nurse her baby girl and the hospital’s staff brought her baby to her for that purpose. The mother asked the nurses to pick up her baby from her once she was done breast feeding. The mother dozed off while breast feeding and awoke about thirty minutes later to find her newborn unresponsive. The hospital’s medical staff attempted to revive the baby girl but their efforts were unsuccessful.
The hospital requested that the medical examiner perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The autopsy report was not issued until June 3, 2010. The cause of the newborn’s death was listed in the autopsy report as “co-sleeping,” the practice of a parent sleeping within arm’s reach of the baby (the term “co-bedding” is sometimes used when the baby and parent(s) share the same bed). Co-sleeping is the fifth leading cause of death for newborns and infants less than a year old in the U.S. — suffocation caused the deaths of 907 newborns and infants in 2009.
Six days after the autopsy report was issued, a death certificate was issued that stated the cause of death to be “asphyxia of newborn infant while sharing a bed with mother.” It was not until the autopsy report was issued that the mother learned what caused her baby’s death.
In October, 2012, the mother filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her baby’s estate and the father of her baby against the hospital where she gave birth, seeking damages for mental pain and suffering, medical expenses, and funeral expenses for the wrongful death of her baby. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that the mother had been given Percocet, magnesium sulfate, Duramorph (morphine injection), and Motrin for her pain in association with her Cesarean section delivery. The malpractice lawsuit claims that the hospital’s medical staff failed to properly monitor the mother after her Cesarean section delivery during which she was given the narcotic injection; the medical staff failed to provide the mother with proper medical treatment in light of her signs and symptoms; and, that they failed to comply with the applicable standard of care to protect the newborn from injury and death.
The hospital’s initial response to the wrongful death lawsuit was to file a motion to dismiss, alleging that the doctors involved with the mother’s care were independent contractors and not hospital employees for whom the hospital could be held responsible, and that the medical malpractice plaintiff’s notice of intent to sue that was filed in May, 2012 alleged medical malpractice by the hospital’s nurses only and did not allege medical malpractice committed by the doctors.
If you, a family member, a loved one, or someone you know may be the victim of medical malpractice in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may agree to assist you by investigating your possible medical malpractice claim for you and filing a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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