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Malpractice case focuses on mismanaged high-risk pregnancy. In re Brea E. 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 50662 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2019)

Losing a newborn baby is an unimaginably devastating experience for any parent. It brings profound grief and a sense of loss that can impact emotional well-being and disrupt the natural process of bonding and joy anticipated with the arrival of a child, often leaving lasting psychological scars. In re Brea E. 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 50662 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2019) is a medical malpractice case involving the tragic death of a newborn only three days after birth, the complexities of managing a high-risk pregnancy come to the forefront.

A pregnancy is considered high-risk when potential complications could affect the mother, the baby, or both. Factors that contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include advanced maternal age (typically over 35), pre-existing health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or autoimmune disorders, and pregnancy-specific conditions such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. Additionally, obesity, a history of pregnancy losses, multiple pregnancies (such as twins or triplets), and problems in previous pregnancies like preterm labor can also elevate risk. These factors necessitate closer monitoring and management to ensure the health and safety of both mother and child throughout the pregnancy and delivery. If a healthcare provide fails to follow protocols and accepted medical practice in managing a high-risk pregnancy and as a result the baby or the mother suffers a serious injury, the healthcare provider may be liable.

Background Facts
In July 2016, the plaintiff, a 34-year-old woman considered of “advanced maternal age” and categorized as obese, entered into the care of Westmed Medical Group for her pregnancy. She had a history of eclampsia from a previous pregnancy 16 years earlier. Her care was managed partly by Dr. Randee Wysocki and Dr. Devine, a high-risk obstetrician-gynecologist. Despite the critical nature of her condition, several standard procedures, such as consistent blood pressure monitoring and a crucial 24-hour urine test, were overlooked or inadequately managed throughout her prenatal visits. On November 5, 2016, after experiencing severe pain and dangerously high blood pressure, she gave birth prematurely. The infant tragically passed away three days later due to complications that were alleged to have been preventable with proper medical oversight.

Whether the defendants, specifically Dr. Devine and Westmed Medical Group, failed to meet the accepted standards of medical care, contributing to the adverse outcomes experienced by the plaintiff and her newborn.

The court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that they did not conclusively establish adherence to the requisite standard of care expected in such high-risk pregnancy scenarios.

The court’s decision was heavily influenced by several alleged medical oversights, notably the failure to consistently monitor the plaintiff’s blood pressure and the lack of urgency in managing the plaintiff’s escalating symptoms. These factors pointed to potential departures from the standard medical protocols for high-risk pregnancies. For example, despite the plaintiff’s history of eclampsia and high-risk status due to advanced maternal age and obesity, Dr. Devine failed to consistently monitor her blood pressure across all visits—a critical oversight for such pregnancies. Additionally, Dr. Devine neglected to insist on the completion of a vital 24-hour urine test, which is essential for detecting protein levels that indicate preeclampsia. These omissions reflected a deviation from standard medical practices expected in managing high-risk pregnancies, contributing to the adverse outcomes experienced.

Additionally, expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs contradicted the defendants’ assertions of compliance with medical standards, suggesting that better management could have possibly prevented the newborn’s death. The conflicting expert opinions highlighted the need for a full trial to thoroughly examine the details and the medical practices applied during the plaintiff’s care.

If you or a loved one has experienced complications during pregnancy or childbirth that you believe were due to medical negligence, seek legal counsel. An experienced New York birth injury lawyer can provide the necessary guidance and representation to navigate the complex medical and legal landscapes. These professionals are equipped to handle the nuances of medical malpractice claims, ensuring that affected families receive the justice and compensation they deserve. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

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