Lourdes Ramos v. Wyckoff Heights Hospital; Joseph Calcagno, M.D.
Type of Injury
CHILDBIRTH – ABRUPTIO PLACENTA
Defense verdict for Hospital and Cho (6/0). Palmeri settled during trial for $100,000 (policy limit). Calcagno was dismissed. Jury: 3 male, 3 female.
IX/35-6 MEDICAL MALPRACTICE 1971 CHILDBIRTH ABRUPTIO PLACENTA DELAY IN PERFORMANCE OF CAESAREAN SECTION DEFENSE VERDICT
Lourdes Ramos v. Wyckoff Heights Hospital; Joseph Calcagno, M.D.; Hong Rae Cho, M.D.; and Thomas Palmeri, M.D. 15491/84 4-week trial Verdict 2/4/92 Judge Nicholas A. Clemente, Kings Supreme
VERDICT: Defense verdict for Hospital and Cho (6/0). Palmeri settled during trial for $100,000 (policy limit). Calcagno was dismissed. Jury: 3 male, 3 female.
Pltf. Atty: John E. Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald, Yonkers
Deft. Atty: Dennis A. Breitner of Kanterman, Taub & Breitner, Manhattan, for Hospital and Cho
Sean F.X. Dugan of Martin, Clearwater & Bell, Manhattan, for Calcagno
Anthony M. Soscia, Jr. of Schiavetti, DeVito, Begos & Nicholson, Manhattan, for Palmeri
Facts: On 6/12/71, Pltf.’s mother was admitted to the Deft. Hospital complaining of pain and irregular contractions. She was in her 34th week of pregnancy at the time. There was a dispute at trial as to whether she was suffering vaginal bleeding at the time of her admission. Physicians at the hospital administered Seconal and established an IV. The next morning, on 6/13/71, she began bleeding profusely. Abruptio placenta was diagnosed, and a Caesarean section was performed at 3:40 PM.
Pltf.’s Apgar scores were 5 at 1 minute and 8 at 5 minutes. The anesthesiologist noted scores of 7 and 9. Pltf. remained in the hospital for 2? weeks after her birth. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy 8 months later. Pltf. claimed that she suffers from mild to borderline mental retardation. She also suffers from spastic diplegia with some involvement of the upper arms. Pltf. uses crutches to ambulate.
Pltf. contended that Defts. were negligent for waiting 4 hours before performing a Caesarean. She contended that on the morning of June 13, a resident and a nurse were unable to hear the fetal heartbeat, and she claimed that this indicated fetal distress. She also claimed that she suffered hypoxia and periventricular leucomalacia, a bleed in the germinal matrix of the brain which caused destruction of the white matter.
Defts. claimed that Pltf.’s mother did not start bleeding seriously until approximately 11:30 AM on 6/13, and they contended that the standard of care in 1971 allowed physicians to wait 4-6 hours before performing a Caesarean in the face of abruptio placenta, as long as the mother and child were not in danger. Defts. contended that the inability of the resident and nurse to hear the fetal heartbeat was caused by movement of the fetus, and not because of fetal distress, and that the Caesarean was performed due to maternal indications only. Defts. also contended that Pltf.’s Apgar scores were consistent with a child born at 34 weeks’ gestation.
Defts. used an MRI taken in 1991 to demonstrate that based on the location of the injury and the brain’s reaction to it, the cerebral palsy was caused by hypotension or another intra-uterine insult at approximately 28 weeks. Deft. contended that the hypotension was a “silent event” caused by problems with the umbilical cord, a drop in the blood pressure of the mother or child, or the flu, and that it occurred at a time when the fetal autoregulatory system was not able to compensate for the lowered blood pressure. Jury deliberation: 2 hours. Pltf. Experts: Dr. Leon Charash, pediatric neurologist, Hicksville; Dr. Sidney Siegel, ob-gyn, Lake Success; Dr. Stanley Sprecher, radiologist, Brooklyn; Dr. Carol Ann Friedman, neuropsychologist; Edmond Provder, vocational rehabilitation; Dr. Seymour Barcun, economist (testified that if Pltf. was institutionalized, the cost of her future care would be $74 million). Deft. Experts: Dr. Robert D. Zimmerman, neuroradiologist, Manhattan; Dr. Charles Debrovner, ob-gyn, Manhattan; Dr. Ruth Nass, pediatric neurologist, Manhattan; Dr. William Shapiro, ob-gyn, New Rochelle.