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Malpractice: Family Awarded $55 Million for Delayed C-Section

By Sunny Chanel |

Malpractice via Babble

Back in 2010, Enso Martinez and wife Rebecca Fielding had hoped to deliver their son in the comfort of their own home with the aid of a midwife. But after hours of labor, the delivery became complicated and Ms. Fielding was reportedly rushed to John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland  But once there she allegedly had to wait hours for the emergency C-section that was necessary for her son’s delivery. According to the parents, the long wait caused devastating damage to their baby due to a loss of oxygen.

Their son Enzo is not just permanently physically disabled, but also severely mentally disabled. The family argued that if the operation and delivery had happened in a timely manner, their 2-year-old boy would be totally fine today.

The family sued the hospital for malpractice and, in what the Baltimore Sun states is the largest malpractice judgment ever in Maryland, the couple was awarded $55 million. Of course the case is being appealed by John Hopkins Hospital, but if the judgment does stand then the family will receive the state cap of $29.6 million, and the money will be held in a trust and used only to care for their child.  The funds would pay for such things as 24-hour-a-day care for their son and a new home that is wheelchair-friendly.

The hospital’s legal team argued that the damage to Enzo happened when the mother had been laboring at home and that it did not happen while at the hospital. “While we certainly sympathize with Ms. Fielding’s situation, we are frankly stunned and surprised that the jury found for the plaintiff in this case given the evidence that was presented,” Gary Stephenson, director of media relations and public affairs, said in a statement. “We strongly deny the allegations in Ms. Fielding’s complaint and continue to firmly believe that the medical care provided to Ms. Fielding by Hopkins was entirely appropriate given the circumstances.”

Do you think $55 million is fair or do you think it’s too much in our litigious society?

Image: iStockPhoto

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Sunny Chanel

Since 2007 Sunny Chanel has written thousands of pieces for Babble. She currently writes for Babble's celebrity, moms, and Disney voices sections and has her own blog aptly named Sunny Chanel. You can find Sunny on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sunny's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Malpractice: Family Awarded $55 Million for Delayed C-Section

  1. anon says:

    What’s very odd is that the midwife in this case was later suspended by the state board of nursing for the care she delivered in this and several other cases (detailed here: http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/06/homebirth-ends-with-brain-damage.html) but that evidence wasn’t allowed at trial, over the hospital’s lawyer’s objections. I wonder what the jury would have done if they had known about that.

  2. Lindsay Q says:

    I’d be very curious to know more details about this case…if she had been laboring in the hospital, would she still have had to wait hours for her emergency section? Did she wait so long because all of the OR rooms were occupied? Did the midwife wait too long to transfer her to the hospital? It could be very possible that their baby could have suffered the same amount of damage if the mother had been laboring in the hospital–it happens all the time. People think that emergency C-sections can take place in a matter of minutes, when the reality is that the absolute fastest any hospital can get you from your L&D room to being prepped and ready for surgery in the OR is 20 minutes (at least that’s the stat in my state, Indiana)—and that’s if everyone is busting their butts and moving at the speed of light. I clearly don’t know who is right or wrong in this malpractice case, but I think more details should be known.

  3. elendy says:

    actually Lindsay, at a large high-volume high-risk hospital like Hopkins, my best guess for ‘decision-to-incision’ time would be about 5 minutes – that is how fast we were able to get a baby out if necessary at my old hospital in Manhattan. But of course, that is provided that the mother was laboring already in the hospital (on the L&D floor, where we had our own dedicated OR’s about 20 feet from the labor rooms and almost all the ladies had IV’s already in place – not that an IV would hold you up by 15 extra minutes….)

  4. Allison Evans says:

    This article simply does not provide enough detail to have an opinion! The following scenarios have happened before and are certainly plausible now: that there was nothing that could have been done for the baby; that the midwife was not at fault but is being disciplined anyway — the hospital may have to pay, but none of the docs involved have been disciplined; that the hospital delayed the c-section because they were punishing the mom and midwife for attempting home birth. One thing that we do know is that people don’t sue just because of catastrophe. They sue when they’ve been ignored. So the last two scenarios seem most plausible to me. $55 million too much? Good heavens, how do you put a price on life? It’s beyond me.

  5. anon says:

    It’s interesting that none of your scenarios involve the midwife. Take a look at the order suspending the midwife – Baby B is the “scenario” you want – and see you think the jury should have been allowed to hear anything about the midwife’s actions before deciding the hospital was at fault. It appears (among other things) that the midwife mistakenly thought the baby was crowning, cut an episiotomy, then took time to repair the episiotomy before deciding to head to the hospital. http://www.mbon.org/disc/public_orders/rn_lpn/muhlhan_evelyn-R060032-SS.Order-20111006.pdf And there were the issues of improperly treating the GBS, the improper fundal pressure and two or three other things. It’s hard to tell without more facts, but there are a world of possible reasons that two hours and twenty minutes passed between when the laboring woman was admitted and when the C-section was complete. One possibility is that the hospital wanted enough time for the only proven effective treatment for GBS to take effect before she delivered. (IV antibiotics) The idea that the hospital wanted to punish a failed homebirth by permanently crippling the baby beggars belief.

    Also, this statement – “One thing that we do know is that people don’t sue just because of catastrophe. They sue when they’ve been ignored” is based on ??? People sue because of catastrophes all the time.

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