Baby falls to floor during home delivery, mom sues hospital for too-early discharge

David Yates Nov. 14, 2007, 11:35am

Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital

Sherri Bates gave birth at home and says the baby fell to the floor during delivery. She is blaming Memorial Hermann Baptist Beaumont Hospital for allowing her to go home earlier that day.

Acting as next of friend to her daughter, Bates is suing Baptist Beaumont, claiming the hospital and its medical staff negligently failed to give her a vaginal exam to rule out labor during her visit.

Her medical-malpractice lawsuit against the hospital, nurse Josi Rawls and Dr. Joanne Holder was filed with the Jefferson County District on Nov. 13.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, on Nov. 8, 2005, Bates, who was 34 weeks pregnant, was admitted to Baptist Beaumont with signs of being "in active labor." Dr. Holder was paged and given a report about the patient.

Dr. Holder proceeded to give an order for Bates to be discharged, "despite no vaginal exam done to rule out labor, no evaluation of her elevated blood pressure to rule out pregnancy induced hypertension, and with only 'labor precautions' and a prescription for Macrobid given to plaintiff," the suit said.

Bates' petition says she returned to the hospital later that afternoon having delivered the baby at home and told staff that the baby literally "fell to the floor upon delivery."

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Holder violated the duty of care owed to Bates and failed to exercise the degree of care, skill, and diligence ordinarily possessed and used by other members of the medical profession in good standing under the same or similar circumstances, the suit said.

The suit lists the following acts of alleged negligence committed by Dr. Holder:

  • Failing to personally come to the hospital to evaluate Plaintiff;
  • Failing to instruct the nurse to check the patient's cervix to rule out premature labor;
  • Failing to properly evaluate the patient for pregnancy induced hypertension;
  • Failing to warn the plaintiff during the existence of the physician-patient relationship of the dangers resulting from Joanne Holder, MD's incompetent treatment;
  • Failing to properly perform the medical treatment necessary to the plaintiffs' welfare according to the standards set by the medical profession;
  • Failing to recognize and/or acknowledge her recognition of the plaintiff's symptoms;
  • Failing to inform the plaintiff of plaintiff's true physical state after treatment, constituting "fraudulent concealment" by defendant, of Joanne Holder, MD's negligence resulting in additional harm and injury to the Plaintiff and the minor plaintiff;
  • Failing to fully and completely disclose the risks and/or hazards of discharging plaintiff from the hospital under the circumstances that then existed;
  • Failing to consult a specialist in the field of obstetrics when the defendant knew or should have known that her skills, knowledge or facilities were inadequate to properly treat the plaintiff under the circumstances as they then existed;
  • By referring the plaintiff to another obstetrician when defendant knew or should have known that she was not able or competent to treat plaintiffs condition at the time she was contacted on Nov. 8, 2005;
  • And by failing to properly assess the Plaintiffs needs and evaluate the medical condition of the patient.

    Because Baptist Beaumont was the employer of nurse Rawls, who allegedly failed to examine Bates, the suit says the hospital is liable for damages under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which is based on the premise that an employer is responsible for damages caused by an employee.

    "Memorial Hermann Baptist…failed to use the ordinary care in providing treatment for plaintiffs that reasonable and prudent hospitals of the same or similar level of certification would have employed under the same or similar circumstances," the suit said.

    The plaintiffs are suing for past and future mental anguish, pain, impairment and medical expenses.

    They are demanding a trial by jury and are represented by attorney Adam Terrell of the Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell law firm.

    Judge Gary Sanderson, 58th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

    Case No. B180-742

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