Opening arguments began Thursday in the civil suit filed against Ashe Memorial Hospital by a West Jefferson woman who alleges that the hospital’s careless and negligent behavior in the delivery of her son left him severely physically impaired.
Lilianna Francisco Perez is appearing on the behalf of her 6-year-old son who she says cannot talk, walk, or feed himself as a result of the injuries he sustained on the day of his birth. According to a civil complaint, filed on Feb. 24, 2008, Perez contends that an unreasonably prolonged delivery by hospital doctors and a severe brain injury from a lack of administered oxygen contributed to his current condition. She is seeking an excess of $10,000 for her son’s personal injuries and also damages for all medical treatment her son received and future treatment that is related to his condition.
Perez arrived at AMH on May 16, 2003 when she was 40 weeks pregnant, the facts portion of the complaint reads. The hospital’s staff administered an ultrasound biophysical profile on Perez later that evening and found fetal breathing to be normal and body limit movements in the womb. Half an hour later, Perez was examined by the hospital’s on-call physician, Dr. Vickie Ingledue, who at the time was eight and a half months pregnant. The complaint said that despite her pregnancy she remained continuously on-duty for the next 24 hours. One central pillar of Perez’s claim is that Ingledue was physically incapable of performing her duties in emergency situations and that the hospital failed to have an adequate staff on hand to perform the duties of delivery in the operating room.
Ingledue officially admitted Perez to the hospital for “prolonged rupture of membranes” and issued written orders to the hospital staff for the administration of antibiotics, which Perez alleges, never occurred.
As Perez’s labor showed no signs of progression, the hospital’s staff then administered pitocin in an attempt to augment the process. Perez later contends in her complaint that the dosage of the labor inducing drug she received was excessive and that the hospital’s delivery unit failed to discontinue its use on her.
Perez remained hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor to watch the baby’s health. In the early morning hours of May 17, delivery nurse Michele Reno reported a spontaneous rupture of membranes with a light meconium staining. At this point, the complaint reads, Ingledue performed an artificial rupture of the membranes, which caused the baby’s umbilical cord to fall out bringing about an obstetrical emergency. Reno was said to have contacted Dr. Channing Badger and then notified the operating room of the need for a cesarean section. Reno was cited by Perez’s claim for not administering oxygen to her after the cord fell out.
Perez goes on to allege that her unborn baby began to show signs of fetal distress and stated that the hospital’s staff failed to alleviate the pending danger in a timely fashion. A C-Section was later performed on Perez and her infant was delivered “essentially dead” and that his body was “flaccid and blue” with no heart rate or respiration. The claim states that Ingledue suctioned meconium from below his vocal cords twice and he was improperly intubated by Ingledue while being resuscitated. The infant was eventually transferred to Brenner’s Children Hospital where he was not discharged for 100 days, the complaint stated.
Through her allegation, Perez is trying to convey the message that the hospital’s staff failed to diagnose and respond to signs of fetal distress as well as prepare for complications in the child’s delivery. She also contends that the hospital’s staff did not exercise their professional knowledge and skill to handle the operation.
As the result of the delivery, Perez’s son is now unable to function as a normal child and requires constant supportive care. She also alleges that her son’s permanent cognitive impairments will also diminish his earning potential in wages in the future and that he is entitled to the recovery of these damages.
In its answer, AMH and the involved physicians listed admitted that Perez was brought to the hospital and received certain medical care as outlined in records but did not elaborate on the care or to what extent is was administered and simply denied other claims.
Ashe County Clerk of Court Pam Barlow explained that court room testimony continued Friday and is expected to resume Monday. Perez is under the representation of Charles G. Monnett III and Associates of Charlotte. The hospital is represented by attorneys Tamura Coffey and Kevin Cartledge of Wilson & Coffey, L.L.P. of Winston-Salem.
Continue to follow the Jefferson Post and www.jeffersonpost.com for further developments.