Midwife mishandles home birth

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Case in Point

August 16, 2011

Midwife mishandles home birth 

The plaintiffs, whose child suffered permanent brain damage and other injuries, alleged that the midwife failed to recognize and properly respond to fetal distress and failed to transfer the mother to a hospital after a prolonged period of pushing. The parties settled before trial for $1.9 million. Flores v. Aucott.

Ara Flores delivered her first child at home with the assistance of Gale Aucott, a certified nurse midwife. Aucott monitored Flores’s baby using a stethoscope and fetal doppler. After pushing for almost three hours, Flores gave birth to a son. He was born with Apgar scores of two at one minute and four at five minutes. Now 5, he suffers from permanent brain damage, seizures, and other problems.

Flores and her husband sued Aucott’s employer, alleging Aucott failed to recognize and properly respond to fetal distress and failed to transfer Flores to the nearest hospital after she had been pushing for two hours. Among other claims, the plaintiffs asserted that Aucott should have monitored the baby every 10 minutes instead of every 45 minutes.

The defense argued that the plaintiffs consented to a delivery without electronic fetal monitoring and were advised of the risks of a home birth.

The parties settled before trial for $1.9 million.

Citation: Flores v. Aucott, No. OCN-L-2992-07 (N.J., Ocean Co. Super. May 11, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Daryl L. Zaslow, Edison, New Jersey.

Plaintiff experts: Robert Wolf, economics, Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Richard Luciani, gynecology, Millburn, New Jersey; Daniel Adler, pediatric neurology, Ridgewood, New Jersey; and Pamela Kelly, labor and delivery, Tampa.

Defense experts: Anthony Quartell, obstetrics, Livingston, New Jersey; William Ainslee Jr., gynecology, Metuchen, New Jersey; William Fox, neonatology, Philadelphia; and Rita Reed, labor and delivery, Quarryville, Pennsylvania.


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