Midwife fails to discontinue Pitocin

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Recent Cases: Medicine

September/October 2012, Volume 27, No. 5

Midwife fails to discontinue Pitocin 

Karschney v. Jolivette, No. 06CV0066 (Wis., Monroe Co. Cir. June 8, 2012).

Carlyne Karschney underwent induction of labor at a medical clinic and was subsequently admitted to a hospital in active labor. Over the next two hours, she failed to progress. Attending nurse midwife Sharon Jolivette gave Karschney a water bath and then administered Pitocin to stimulate contractions. Jolivette authorized increasing doses of Pitocin throughout the labor, which continued for about 12 hours.

After Karschney had been pushing for almost three hours, Jolivette removed the fetal monitor and put her back into the water birthing tub to deliver the baby. Karschney’s daughter was born in a severely depressed condition. Her Apgar scores were one at one minute and three at five minutes. Now 11, she has been diagnosed as having cerebral palsy. She cannot walk without the aid of a walker and has cognitive deficits.

The child sued Jolivette and the hospital, alleging failure to administer appropriate levels of Pitocin and perform a cesarean section about 10 hours into the labor, when the fetal heart rate patterns became nonreassuring.

The jury awarded about $13.7 million. Jolivette was found 80 percent liable, and the hospital 20 percent at fault.

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Jeffrey M. Goldberg, Chicago.

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