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D.C. Medical Malpractice Causes Severe Prematurity

A hospital physician violated a simple patient safety rule - he didn't get all of the available information before he discharged his patient. 

This experienced doctor, an obstetrician and specialist at a respected hospital in Washington, D.C., believed his patient was only 23 weeks pregnant, and that the pregnancy was not yet viable, when he discharged her from the hospital.  The patient had experienced symptoms of preterm labor and other complications that would have caused him to recommend hospitalization, bedrest and other treatement to prolong the pregnancy if he thought she was viable.

Viability is generally believed to be when the mother is 24 weeks pregnant.

But the doctor, a specialist, didn't calculate - or otherwise check - the gestational age of the baby she was carrying.  Instead, he used a sloppy, handwritten notation of the gestational age for his high risk obstetrical patient that he or a resident had written in the patient's chart when she came it.  And he guessed wrong.

The baby his patient ws carrying was over 24 weeks and viable at discharge, and the mom was at high risk for a preterm delivery.  The baby was born a week later without the benefit of prenatal steroids given to promote the baby's lung maturity, decrease the complications of Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) and Intra Ventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) common to severely premature infants. Prenatal steroids are routinely used in high risk pregnancies once the baby is viable.

The child suffered from mild cerebral palsy, delays across all areas of cognitive functioning and respiratory issues. 

The settlement allowed his family to move to a home in a county that can provide greater resources for him, where he lives with his family.  It  will provide him with income for life in case his developmental delays reduce his ability to earn a living when he is an adult, as well as enough for medical care and treatment.

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