Final Verdict: Inattentive Physician Causes Tragedy
A patient’s relationship with his or her doctor is always vitally important. Receiving excellent medical treatment depends on having a physician who understands the specific needs of the patient and can listen to symptoms or complaints. Unfortunately, not all doctors operate in this way. Far too often, patients are ignored or cast aside because they are thought to be exaggerating their symptoms or acting out of fear, when they have serious concerns that ought to be heard.
Susan Kenney, a 40-year-old expectant mother, was only ten days away from her scheduled Caesarean delivery when she visited her OB/GYN with concerns of decreased fetal movement. Near term, an expectant mother can readily feel her baby moving at most times — in fact, this makes it extremely difficult to sleep — and so it’s obvious when the movement decreases. In many cases, decreased fetal movement can the first sign an expectant mother receives that something is potentially wrong.
Pregnancies beyond age 35 are automatically considered to be high-risk, so Susan knew she was right to be worried. The Mayo Clinic recommends that high-risk expectant mothers consult with their physician immediately in a variety of concerning situations:
Consult your health care provider about how to manage any medical conditions you might have during your pregnancy and how your health might affect labor and delivery. Ask your health care provider to discuss specific signs or symptoms to look out for, such as vaginal bleeding [or] decreased fetal activity.
Find out which signs or symptoms should prompt you to contact your health care provider and when to seek emergency care. A high-risk pregnancy might have ups and downs. Do your best to stay positive as you take steps to promote a healthy pregnancy.
Susan saw her OB/GYN, Dr. Robert Bridges, on October 27, 2015, explaining that she didn’t feel the baby moving as much. He told her not to worry and asked her to return for an ultrasound the following day. He did not give her the option of immediate testing and did not explain the high risk of sudden death at this stage. Unfortunately, by the time she came back for the ultrasound, tragedy had struck. The placental cord had been wrapped around the baby’s neck and body, and her child had died between the two visits.
A medical malpractice attorney agreed to represent Susan, and she brought a lawsuit against Bridges, arguing that he should have done immediate testing and proceeded to an emergency delivery. The suit alleged medical malpractice, wrongful death, lack of informed consent, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Because of her child’s death, Susan was forced to deliver her son stillborn, just days before he was supposed to be born by Caesarean. Experts brought by her attorney explained that if Bridges had acted quickly, he could have learned about the situation and delivered the baby immediately, saving its life.
Although defense experts argued that Bridges had acted within the standard of care, the jury didn’t care. The trial took six days for arguments, but only six hours for deliberation, after which Susan was awarded $1.25 million in medical malpractice damages with the help of attorneys like Cohen & Cohen, P.C.