In a rare instance of a medical malpractice case being filed in federal court, a mother and father who allege their baby was fatally injured by medical negligence during birth recently filed a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
Why Federal Court?
The case was filed in federal court because one of the healthcare providers involved in the case, Three Lower Counties Community Services, "is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 I.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n)." According to Title 42 U.S.C. Section 233, "medical malpractice claims arising out of the medical negligence of Public Health Service employees must be filed against the United States exclusively."
The woman was 27-weeks pregnant on January 23, 2013 when she began experiencing severe vaginal bleeding and rupture of the amniotic sac. She went to the Labor and Delivery Department of Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland. Fetal heart monitoring tracings showed poor variability. These symptoms are characteristic of a placental abruption, "an obstetrical emergency that requires an immediate Cesarean section delivery." However, the baby was not delivered for more than 3 ½ hours. "The delay in delivery allegedly resulted in the baby suffering severe and prolonged hypoxia and led to the baby’s death shortly after her birth."
The plaintiffs allege that the physician was negligent in failing to recognize the symptoms of the placental abruption and the obstetrical emergency this entailed. The lawsuit alleges that had the attending physician met the standard of care, consulted with neonatal specialists, and ordered an emergency Cesarean delivery, the baby would not have suffered from hypoxia, which is when a part of the body does not receive oxygen for an extended period of time, and what was unfortunately a fatal birth injury.