Let me tell you about a brain-damaged baby case I handled that started when a woman came to my office and told me about how she was in labor with her second child. She was admitted to the labor floor and apparently hooked up to a fetal monitor to evaluate the baby's heart rate and the mother's contraction patterns.

She was on the labor floor for hours with infrequent visits by a nurse and a resident doctor every so often. Mom told me that despite continued complaints of labor pain, her pleas to help went ignored. Nobody checked on her for more than an hour. When a nurse finally checked in on her, she noted abnormal fetal tracings and ran for the doctor. The doctor came in, examined the patient, reviewed the fetal monitoring strips and decided she needed an emergency cesarean section. All mom knew was that there was a problem with the baby.

At the time of birth, the baby had very low Apgars- the scores that are given to the baby try and objectively asses the baby's well-being at the time of birth. The doctors look at whether the baby is breathing at birth, whether he's crying, moving his arms and legs. The color of his skin is evaluated, among other important factors that make up a baby's "Apgar scores."

Unfortunately for this mother, her child was deprived of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen, that led to brain damage. We claimed that the baby's distress was visible on the fetal monitor tracing that went ignored, along with mom's complaints. The doctor who was responsible for this patient initially claimed the patient didn't need an emergency c-section, but then later changed his testimony and claimed it really was an emergency c-section because the baby was in distress.

Anoxia is a term doctors use to mean "no oxygen."
Hypoxia is a term doctors use to mean "lack of oxygen."
Either condition is extremely bad for the baby since our brains require oxygen to survive. If the baby's brain is deprived of oxygen of a period of time, the baby can experience permanent and irreversible brain damage.

In our case, I was able to successfully resolve the case in favor of the mother and child. Obtaining appropriate compensation as a result of the failure to recognize fetal distress during delivery allowed mom to be able to support her disabled and brain-damaged child for the remainder of her life.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer