Malpractice Lawsuit Against Physician For Failing to Diagnosing Premature Membrane Rupture

Published: 08th January 2011
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Premature rupture of membranes is a situation where the amniotic sac ruptures before labor. When a physician that determines that a mother has suffered a premature rupture of membranes the medical community normally concurs that the treating doctor ought to admit the woman to the hospital, monitor her for a minimum of three to four days, and prescribe her an antibiotic and steroids. The antibiotic is used to minimize the risk of infection from occurring in her uterus and steroids are administered to encourage lung growth in the baby as when premature rupture of membranes occurs, the physician is required deliver the child early. Using the steroids in combination with the antibiotic raises the likelihood that the baby will live.

Consider what happened when a pregnant woman noticed wetness in her undergarments and went to see her doctor straight away. When she arrived at the doctor's office, she was placed on a fetal heart monitor and her obstetrician performed a speculum examination. Approximately five minutes later the obstetrician finished the examination she was taken off of the fetal heart monitor and the physician told her that she had a yeast infection.

The woman, unhappy with the care she got from her obstetrician, decided to switch doctors and contacted her primary care doctor. She scheduled an appointment and prior to her appointment, she saw blood in her urine. As she feared for her child's wellbeing she contacted her primary care doctor immediately and went in for an appointment. When she arrived at the hospital her primary care doctor told her that her baby did not have a heart beat. After an ultrasound her primary care physician confirmed that her child had died. The mother then had to give birth to her stillborn child. The mother's primary care physician informed her that membranes of amniotic sac were already ruptured. The autopsy of the child indicated that there was intrauterine infection which caused a placental abruption leading to the child's death. If these conditions had been diagnosed early the baby may have survived.

A case ensued against the mother's obstetrician. At trial the lawyer representing the mother was was able to successfully argue that the doctor did not meet the standard of care. The first time that the mother went to see her physician because of the wetness she noticed in her undergarments the physician was required to conduct three tests, a nitrazine test, a ferning test and an ultrasound.

A nitrazine test is similar to a litmus test, which tests the ph in a woman's vagina. If the result exceeds a particular value it is an indicator that the membranes of the amniotic sac has ruptured. The ferning test would have showed the amount of amniotic fluid that was present in the mother's vaginal secretion. And the mother's ultrasound would have informed the physician how much amniotic fluid was in the amniotic sac and how much had been lost. However, the physician did not perform any of these tests.

The doctor additionally failed to recognize the signs from the fetal heart monitor that indicated cord compression. Moreover, after the doctor received the test results of the mother's white blood cell count, which indicated that she might have an infection, her obstetrician did not change his diagnosis, did not inform the mother and failed to request that she return for further testing. As a result, and as reported by the law firm that represented the woman the mother obtained a verdict in the amount of $2.75 million.

You can learn more about placental abruption and other birth injury matters including stillbirth and group b streptococcus by visiting the websites

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