Washington Hospital Faces Wrongful-Death Lawsuit for Stillbirth, Negligence

07/11/2011 // WPB, FL, USA // Personal Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

Alameda County, WA — A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed in connection with a stillborn delivery last year at Washington Hospital that resulted in the dismissal of five birthing center nurses and requiring several others to take part in two months of all-day remedial training classes. The wrongful-death lawsuit was filed against Washington Hospital in the Alameda County Superior Court, which accuses the Fremont hospital of improper care, as reported by San Jose Mercury News.

The wrongful-death lawsuit claims that the improper care received at Washington Hospital was a “substantial factor” in a stillborn delivery from a 19-year-old expectant mother who was receiving an epidural.

Contrarily, an autopsy says the death was caused by an amniotic fluid infection, which also found no signs or wrongdoing by the hospital.

But, the California Department of Public Health reported in an April finding that the hospital did not follow key procedures in treating the patient, which “potentially contributed to the delayed detection of fetal distress and notification of the attending physician.”

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the state’s finding included the following:

• There was no labor and delivery nurse present during the epidural, and the nurse present told state investigators that she was not trained to read or interpret fetal heart rate monitoring strips.

• When monitors failed to clearly detect the baby’s heart rate at 5:29 a.m., as the patient was about to undergo the epidural, staff failed to immediately notify the obstetrician on-call, who was not informed of the situation until 6:15 a.m. Heart-rate monitors did detect a slowing heart rate at 5:36 a.m. but nothing after 5:51 a.m.

• Hospital employees failed to consider other methods to detect the fetal heart rate between 5:29 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. — during which time the “electronic fetal heart monitor alarmed six times to signal loss of fetal heart rates, and attempts to reposition the electronic fetal monitor sensor failed to detect a heart rate.”

• A pathology report indicated that had the baby survived, it faced a significant likelihood of neurological injury due to the fetal inflammation.

• Washington Hospital declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

• The hospital said in a report to the state that its employees failed to follow patient monitoring and physician notification protocols, and proposed several corrective actions including:

• Requiring 30 minutes of fetal heart-rate monitoring immediately before performing an epidural.

• Requiring continuous electronic fetal monitoring during epidural procedures with a labor and delivery nurse at the bedside.

• Assigning a registered nurse to view monitors at all times.

• Adding assistant nurse managers to all shifts.

• Administering competency skills tests for labor and delivery nurses and providing remediation training for those who failed the test.

As a result of the stillbirth, Washington Hospital fired the two labor and delivery nurses who were treating the expectant mother. Three others were also fired due to accusations that’s claimed they improperly accessed the patient’s medical records following the stillbirth.

Several other nurses who were required to attend remediation classes are no longer working at the Fremont hospital.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for California wrongful-death lawyers.

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