Improper handling of prolapsed umbilical cord

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Case in Point

June 18, 2013

Improper handling of prolapsed umbilical cord 

The plaintiffs sued the United States, alleging that an army hospital’s staff failed to properly handle a prolapsed umbilical cord by performing an immediate cesarean section. The parties settled for $10 million before trial. Burk v. U.S.

Shannon Burk was admitted to an army hospital to deliver her twins. After the first baby was delivered, the second one developed heart rate decelerations. Burk’s treating physicians diagnosed a prolapsed umbilical cord but continued with the vaginal delivery. The second baby was delivered almost an hour after the prolapsed cord was discovered.

The baby was born in a severely depressed condition and was later diagnosed as having suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy. She cannot walk or talk, requires a feeding tube, and will need 24-hour assistance for the rest of her life.

Burk and her husband sued the United States, alleging the army hospital's staff failed to properly handle the prolapsed umbilical cord by performing an immediate cesarean delivery.

The parties settled for $10 million before trial.

Citation: Burk v. U.S., No. 5:10:-CV-00470 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 7, 2013).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Robert B. Melvin, Greenville, N.C.


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