Mother sues obstetrician, hospital over alleged botched delivery

May 24, 2013
By Callaway & Wolf on May 24, 2013 5:03 PM |

A woman, whose son was born with severe health problems, has sued the hospital where she delivered the child, and the obstetrician who handled the delivery. The mother contends that a series of missteps by the medical providers caused her son's condition, according to
The pregnant woman, who had previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, entered St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco to deliver her child. Initially, the woman attempted to deliver via vaginal delivery. The woman experienced difficult labor, with the large size of her son exacerbating the complication involved in the delivery. Eventually, the woman asked her obstetrician, Yamilee O. Bermingham, to perform a Caesarean section procedure. Allegedly, the doctor did not perform the requested procedure, instead continuing to attempt to deliver the baby by the vaginal method, although lacking the patient's informed consent to do
During the delivery, the baby boy experienced shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when, after the baby's head passes through the birth canal, his shoulder becomes stuck the anterior shoulder of the infant cannot pass below the cartilaginous joint that joins the mother's left and right pubic bones, or requires assistance to pass. Shoulder dystocia can be fatal to the baby, as the condition compresses the umbilical cord within the birth canal. In cases of shoulder dystocia, a doctor may try to change the mother's position or re-orient the baby to allow his shoulder to pass, but if these techniques do not succeed, doctors typically perform a C-section.
In this case, Bermingham never performed the C-section. After delivery, doctors diagnosed the baby with Erb's Palsy. Erb's palsy is a condition causing paralysis of the arm and is caused by the baby's suffering an injury to the upper group of the arm's main nerves that form part of the brachial plexus. This type of injury may occur as a result of twisting or pulling the baby's head or neck to the side top direct through the birth canal. Additionally, the injury can result from pulling too hard on a baby's arm in an effort to free him from shoulder dystocia. Erb's palsy may require therapy or surgery. Erb's palsy causes a permanent weakness, loss of movement, or loss of sensation in the baby's arm, hand, or fingers.
The mother sued Bermingham, the hospital, and its parents company in San Francisco Superior Court, alleging that medical negligence in the conduct of the delivery caused the baby's injury. The complaint pointed out that gestational diabetes and extended labor are risk factors for shoulder dystocia. Because the mother exhibited both risk factors, and the mother expressly requested a C-section delivery, the doctor was negligent in failing to conduct the procedure. The doctor's failure to do so and continuation with the vaginal delivery constituted a failure to take proper action that directly resulted in the boy's birth injury, the complaint claimed.
Doctors owe their patients a number of duties. One of those is to perform only those procedures to which the patient gives a valid, voluntary, informed consent. Ultimately, the choice regarding a patient's care belongs to the patient. If you've been injured by medical negligence or malpractice, our San Francisco medical malpractice attorneys are here to assist you. Our San Francisco medical malpractice attorneys are knowledgeable and prepared to help you handle your case.