South Carolina Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Results in $4.4 Million Verdict Over Misread Fetal Heart Monitor

On Friday, a jury returned a verdict of $4.4 million in a South Carolina medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of a child who developed cerebral palsy after suffering a brain injury during birth when a nurse misread the fetal heart monitor data.

The cerebral palsy lawsuit was filed in the York County Court of Common Pleas against Piedmont Hospital by the parents of Sierra Wilson, who was born on November 18, 2003.

Cerebral palsy, which is commonly referred to as CP, is a condition involving disorders of muscle coordination and movement control which can be caused by brain damage suffered before, during or immediately after birth.  It is commonly associated with sensory impairments, seizures, and cognitive limitations.

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If the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen during labor and delivery, the child can be left with life-long disabilities from cerebral palsy, which could include the inability to talk, walk or move independently.

According to the family’s CP lawsuit, the mother entered the hospital with nausea and vomiting three days before she was scheduled to be induced. They alleged that the hospital failed to meet reasonable standards of medical care when a nurse who was assigned to monitor the mother failed to properly interpret data from the fetal heart monitor that suggested the baby was in distress.

A fetal heart rate monitor, is a common device used to track the heart beat of the baby during labor. When properly monitored, it can allow medical staff to identify signs of fetal distress which may require emergency intervention.

The family argued that because the nurse, who was a trainee at the time, misread the fetal heartbeat data, the baby was deprived of emergency care which could have prevented the permanent brain damage which left her with cerebral palsy.

The child died of complications from cerebral palsy on February 13, 2008, exactly one year before the jury found that hospital was negligent and awarded her family $4.4 million.


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