If you wonder why obstetrics is so aggressive

Second Largest Medical Malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania since 2000.

Pottstown Hospital Ordered to Pay $78.5 Million (Philadelphia Business Journal)
May 4, 2012

By Jeff Blumenthal and John George, Staff Writers

A Philadelphia jury ordered Pottstown Memorial Medical Center to pay $78.5 million Friday in a medical malpractice verdict in a case involving a child who suffered severe brain damage as a result of alleged negligence.

The child, now 3, has severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy resulting from an 81-minute delay in performance of an emergency cesarean section delivery.

The case was tried, beginning on April 13, in front of Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein. The damages award includes payments for future medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the child as well as emotional distress for the baby’s mother, Victoria Upsey.

Plaintiffs attorney Daniel Weinstock of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig of Philadelphia said birth injury cases are always emotional matters, but the facts of this case were particularly shocking because the reason this delivery was delayed was that the obstetrician thought the baby was dead.

“He performed an ultrasound examination with outdated, insensitive, and poorly maintained equipment provided to him by the hospital, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center,” Weinstock said. “He actually told my client her baby had died, then 81 minutes later, the baby had come back to life.”

“We are disappointed in today’s verdict and plan to appeal,” the hospital said in a statement.

Pottstown Memorial is owned and operated by Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH), a hospital management company based in Franklin, Tenn. Its lawyers were not available immediately for comment either.
http://www.feldmanshepherd.com/361-media-coverage-Pottstown-Hospital-Ordered-to-Pay-785-Million-Philadelphia-Business-Journal-.php

6 thoughts on “If you wonder why obstetrics is so aggressive

  1. I get it but this also raises a lot of questions for me about what actually constitutes safe birth practice and and how/why does CP happen.

    • “He actually told my client her baby had died, then 81 minutes later, the baby had come back to life.” This is yet another instance where an ultrasound is worse than useless. The article doesn’t say what drugs and shenanigans had occurred prior to that wrong “death” diagnosis. This court/malpractice award scenario makes drs so terrified of birthing women that everyone gets treated like a time bomb ready to explode. Everyone loses.

      What causes cerebral palsy? It is thought to be a period of oxygen deprivation in utero. Forceps pull outs are often involved. Forceps/vacuum extractions go hand in hand with women having epidurals.

      Some harm in obstetrics is caused by human error and imperfection on the part of the caregivers. Some harm to babies is a result of parents thinking that someone will save their baby even though they live reckless lives and don’t help themselves. Rarely, but sometimes, even with the most dedicated parents who have completely natural births, things can happen that lead to trauma to the baby and there is no visible reason for what happened. The idea that a cesarean is the answer to everything is ridiculous but it salves the mind that thinks “The more stuff that was DONE, the better.” It’s a multi-faceted problem but you just don’t see a case of “cerebral palsy, quadripalegia” from a home birth. Drs are frantically looking for a genetic marker for CP or evidence that points to the CP happening long before the day of the birth. Of course, they would like to get that diagnosis of cerebral palsy as far away from them being blamed as possible. When the woman is numb from her breasts to her toes (epidural), someone will have to haul that baby out of her, some way. There’s no way to safely give birth and not feel anything. Women need to grapple with that bottom line.

      • “There’s no way to safely give birth and not feel anything. Women need to grapple with that bottom line.”

        So, so, so, so, SO true. I’m a doula and I attend lots of homebirths. One of the hardest things to get women to understand is that a home birth is a safe birth and it will hurt less, but it’s not a pain-free birth. Even women who make all the right, pro-natural choices still have to process that societally imprinted aversion to pain. What a shame, women have so much trouble viewing the pain as a rite of passage and a necessity until after the birth (and even then….)

  2. Sometimes bad things just happen and sometimes babies do die during birth – a hard fact to get ones head around but this life and death continuum is something that those of us who choose to birth at home generally understand. Ironic isn’t it, that although mothers and babies are safer at home where one must take responsibility for themselves and their family, most women will continue to chose hospital as the ‘safer’ option where there are others to blame! I don’t fully understand the medical facts behind this case so I won’t comment on that, but I am constantly disappointed when women choose to blindly place theirs and their babies safety in the hands of a medical system that simply does not have their interests at heart. I also completely agree that to advertise to women that birth doesn’t have to be painful is harmful. Birth is (generally) painful because it is supposed to be. I have personally found that not only is the pain of labour and birth useful, it is essential in communicating with your unborn baby as they navigate their way out! I think those of us who passionate about physiological birth need to stop talking about ‘birth experience’ and start talking about ‘risk’ and ‘safety’ as these terms relate to natural and hands off birth.

    • I agree! Having had three homebirths, it was essential to have feeling! I had to know when to simply breathe the baby down and when to move to relieve pressure from certain areas. If I were numb and had to have the baby pulled out of me I am sure there would be some trauma, to me and my baby. The ‘pain’ was not an unnatural pain one would experience should a spontaneous injury occur. It was a well regulated and progressive pain that ended nearly immediately after birth. Much better in my opinion.

      • Here’s a more complete article on what happened in this case:
        Pottstown hospital ordered to pay $78.5 million
        Philadelphia Business Journal by Jeff Blumenthal and John George, Staff Writers, Staff Writers

        Date: Friday, May 4, 2012, 3:00pm EDT
        Related:
        Health Care, Legal Services

        A Philadelphia jury ordered Pottstown Memorial Medical Center to pay $78.5 million Friday in a medical malpractice verdict in a case involving a child who suffered severe brain damage as a result of alleged negligence.

        The child, now 3, has severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy resulting from an 81-minute delay in performance of an emergency cesarean section delivery.

        The case was tried, beginning on April 13, in front of Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein. The damages award includes payments for future medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the child as well as emotional distress for the baby’s mother, Victoria Upsey.

        Plaintiffs attorney Daniel Weinstock of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig of Philadelphia said birth injury cases are always emotional matters, but the facts of this case were particularly shocking because the reason this delivery was delayed was that the obstetrician thought the baby was dead.

        “He performed an ultrasound examination with outdated, insensitive, and poorly maintained equipment provided to him by the hospital, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center,” Weinstock said. “He actually told my client her baby had died, then 81 minutes later, the baby had come back to life.”

        “We are disappointed in today’s verdict and plan to appeal,” the hospital said in a statement.

        Pottstown Memorial is owned and operated by Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH), a hospital management company based in Franklin, Tenn. Its lawyers were not available immediately for comment either.

        The case arose in August 2008 when Victoria Upsey, then 36 weeks pregnant, came to the hospital with signs of a placental abruption. According to Feldman Shepherd, fetal monitoring was inconclusive, leading the obstetrician to perform a bedside ultrasound examination.

        Weinstock and colleague G. Scott Vezina argued that the ultrasonography equipment provided by Pottstown Memorial was antiquated, lacking the sensitivity of modern ultrasound machines. Weinstock said the hospital’s risk manager testified that there was no evidence the equipment had even been serviced for more than 10 years, whereas the manual indicates that annual maintenance is necessary.

        Weinstock said the treating obstetrician testified that he performed the ultrasound properly, and the reason he did not identify the fetal heartbeat is because the baby had died. He insisted the baby then “came back to life” some 81 minutes later. Weinstock and Vezina contended Pottstown Memorial did not have an ultrasound technician present in the hospital because it was a Sunday. The technician had to come from home in order to verify the obstetrician’s incorrect findings.

        Weinstock said he spoke with some jury members after the verdict and said they told him that alleged faulty equipment and lack of proper staffing led them to find the hospital 100 percent liable and absolve the two treating doctors of liability.

        Weinstock said the case was tried in Philadelphia because the child was treated at Thomas Jefferson Hospital immediately after the incident occurred. He said the plaintiff has a choice in such cases.

        Upsey will receive $1.5 million for emotional distress and the remainder will either be put in trust or rewarded in periodic payments and used solely for the care of the child.

        Weinstock said he believes the verdict to be one of the largest ever in a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania.
        http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2012/05/04/pottstown-memorial-medical-center.html

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