OSU Medical Center Settles Lawsuit for $5.25 Million in Case of Brain-Dead Infant
The Ohio State University Medical Center will pay a Hilliard couple more than $5 million to settle a medical negligence claim following the delivery of their brain-dead son in 2006. The Court of Claims of Ohio approved the settlement today.
On April 28, 2006, Saynab was admitted to OSU Medical Center at 3:20 p.m. in the initial stages of labor. Her son, Ayub Gelle, was eventually delivered via emergency cesarean-section at 5:10 a.m. the next morning. The couple filed a medical malpractice claim in the Court of Claims on June 22, 2009.
The Court of Claims separated the issues of liability and damages, and the case went to trial on the issue of liability. On May 11, 2012, the court found in favor of the plaintiffs because they proved their claims of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence.
“Plaintiffs allege that Dr. (Walter) Hull negligently failed to properly interpret the fetal heart rate tracings which showed a pattern of non-reassuring signs, and that Dr. Hull’s failure to manage plaintiff’s labor resulted in permanent hypoxic (lack of oxygen) and ischemic (lack of blood flow) brain injury to Ayub Gelle,” according to the liability decision.
After hearing testimony from Dr. Hull and two doctors/expert witnesses for the plaintiffs and defendants, the court found that “the prolonged late deceleration would have alerted a physician of ordinary skill, care, and diligence to closely monitor plaintiff for a period of time and re-examine her after 20 minutes to assess whether a c-section was warranted.”
“The evidence shows that at 4:10 a.m., plaintiff was pushing poorly with contractions, and that when Dr. Hull performed an examination at 4:37 a.m., the baby’s head was in ‘minus one station,’ which means that delivery was not imminent,” according to the decision. “The court further finds that Dr. Hull’s delay in assessing the need for a c-section was the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries.”
The court found the testimony of the two plaintiffs’ expert witnesses “more persuasive.” Each doctor found fault with how the drug Pitocin was administered during labor.
Pitocin’s sole purpose “is to increase the frequency and intensity of uterine contractions, and in this case, the tracings showed that uterine contractions were causing decreased perfusion of blood and oxygen to the fetus,” according to the testimony of Dr. William Roberts, a Chattanooga, Tenn. OB/GYN.
Dr. Martin Gubernick, an OB/GYN and clinical instructor at the medical college at Cornell University, testified that “it was a breach of the standard of care to start the administration of Pitocin at 12:45 a.m., because plaintiff was experiencing increasing decelerations, and the Pitocin increased the amount of contractions which in turn decreased the amount of oxygen that was delivered to the baby.”
Dr. Gubernick also testified about the “multiparous trap” phenomenon “where a physician makes the assumption that a patient who has had several vaginal deliveries in the past will ultimately have another vaginal delivery despite the presence of abnormal tracings.”
The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies.
To access information on other cases visit the Court of Claims website.
Please note: Opinion summaries are prepared by the Office of Public Information for the general public and news media. Opinion summaries are not prepared for every opinion, but only for noteworthy cases. Opinion summaries are not to be considered as official headnotes or syllabi of court opinions. The full text of this and other court opinions are available online.