Nurse’s Negligence Caused Child’s Brain Injury

by John McKiggan

Nurse Negligent

In a decision released last week, Justice Tausendfreund has ruled that a nurse at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital was negligent and that the nurse’s negligence caused catastrophic brain injuries to a baby, Danny Vuong.

Danny’s mother, Ms. Giang was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital on June 12, 2991. Her pregnancy had been normal and uneventful.

Fetal Heart Monitor Results Not Normal

Two nurses were assigned to Ms. Giang to monitor the baby’s fetal heart rate. They used an electronic fetal heart monitor (EFM) to monitor the baby’s heart rate.

When the nurse checked the heart monitor it showed a range of 170 beats per minute, a reading that is outside the normal range. The nurse assumed that she had simply heard a normal acceleration of the baby’s heart rate. However, the nurse also recognized that the increased heart rate could also be a sign of tachycardia, an abnormal elevation in the heart rate which is a sign of fetal distress.

Didn’t Check Again

But she didn’t check the baby’s heart rate again to see if it had returned to normal! 20 Minute Delay

Unfortunately, the nurse did not return to Ms. Giang to conduct another fetal heart rate monitor until 20 minutes later. By that time, the baby’s heart rate had dropped precipitously and an emergency C-section was performed.

The surgeon who performed the c-section found that the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Danny’s neck. Danny was born suffering from the results of acute hypoxia-ischemia resulting in severe brain damage.

Justice Tausendfreund ruled that:

“Had Danny been born 10 minutes earlier he would have been at great risk for some neurological injury, but he would not have sustained the depth or extent of injury he did.

“I find that had Danny been born 10 minutes earlier, it would have significantly and materially reduced both the extent and nature of the injury to Danny’s brain and would have significantly and materially reduced the degree of functional impairment.”

Nurse Failed to Meet Standard of Care

Justice Tausendfreund ruled that the nurse had failed to meet the standard of care expected of her. Had she acted in accordance with the standard of care and continued to monitor the baby’s heart rate to confirm her assumptions she would have realized that the baby was suffering a medical emergency. As a result, the Judge ruled that the nurse’s negligence was the cause of baby Danny’s catastrophic brain injuries.

Causation in Medical Malpractice Claims

This case shows how a difference of just minutes can mean the difference between life and death. The difference between having a healthy baby and a baby who will live his life severely debilitated by brain injury.

The vast majority of medical malpractice claims fail because the victim is not able to prove that the the health provider’s negligence caused or materially contributed to their injury.

For more information you can buy a copy of my book: The Consumer’s Guide to Medical Malpractice Claims in Canada: Why 98% of Canadian Medical Malpractice Victims Never Receive a Penny in Compensation. on Amazon.

Or you can contact me through this blog or by calling toll free in Atlantic Canada 1-877-423-2050 and we will send you a copy, free, anywhere in the Maritimes.

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