Written by Jeff Meyer on 21 Jul 2015
The University of Chicago Medical Center is being sued for alleged malpractice after a new mother filed a complaint that her newborn developed cerebral palsy while in the womb due to improper care by hospital staff.
The Story So Far
Latoya Blanchard, who gave birth to her son Dylin in 2011, recently filed the complaint in Cook County Circuit Court. According to court documents, Latoya says that she began being cared for by the Maternal Fetal Medicine and Genetics Department of the medical center in late March of 2011. The mother, who was seven weeks pregnant at the time, told her doctors that she had lost a previous pregnancy at 22 weeks in order to inform them of the possibility of complications with her current pregnancy. Latoya had two routine visits, neither of which had involved receiving a fetal ultrasound, and then returned at almost 21 weeks only to discover that her unborn son’s heart rate was 143 beats per minute – and that her cervix had been dilated to 48 millimeters.
However, Latoya’s doctors sent her home. It wasn’t long until she returned again after complaining of back pain. At that time it was discovered that she was six centimeters dilated; ultrasounds taken then showed the child had positioned itself in the “footling breech” position, which is literally feet first within the womb. At the time, Latoya was given magnesium, betamethasone and antibiotics; another ultrasound then showed that the fetus had returned to a headfirst, or “cephalic” presentation, a more traditional (and much safer) position to be in for a child that is preparing to be born.
The Birth and the Aftermath
Two days later, Dylin Blanchard was born weighing only one pound four ounces. The prematurely born infant suffered from serious physical injuries at birth such as neonatal seizures and a grade four ventricular hemorrhage. These injuries led to Dylin being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and severe developmental delays, both of which are common with premature births that involve head trauma to the child.
Latoya has leveled accusations of carelessness and negligence against hospital staff for neglecting to administer progesterone, a hormone which is used to prevent preterm birth in mothers who have had premature births in the past – or who have lost children before term as well. Latoya also claims in her lawsuit that the hospital should have taken additional steps to prevent a preterm delivery of Dylin, such as using a procedure known as a cervical cerclage, which involves surgically stitching the cervix closed to prevent an early birth. Like progesterone treatments, cervical cerclage has proven effective in the past in preventing premature births – especially in mothers who have a history of losing children prematurely.
Looking for Compensation
In total, Latoya is looking for at least $50,000 in damages, not inclusive of court costs and legal fees. If she can prove that hospital staff were indeed negligent in providing her and her son neonatal care, there is an excellent chance that she will prevail on her claim for damages against the hospital.
This compensation could be used to provide for the specialized care Dylin will need as he grows in order to counteract the effects of the severe developmental delays and the cerebral palsy that he allegedly received at the hands of negligent hospital staff. If she prevails as a plaintiff against the hospital, the compensation could be paid to her as a structured settlement of smaller installments over the course of several months, or in one lump sum paid at once from the defendant.