Failure To Diagnose Congenital Heart Defect In Utero
Physician failed to properly examine fetal heart during fetal anatomy scan
Bronx County, NY
This medical malpractice action involved a plaintiff who underwent a routine fetal anatomy scan that was done at 24 weeks of pregnancy. The imaging captured of the heart never checked for outflow tracts and required the patient to come back for additional imaging. Rather, the defendant negligently issued a sonogram report stating that the fetal heart was normal. Following a normal remainder of the pregnancy, the infant plaintiff was born and handed to his mother. After about 20 minutes, the mom realized her baby began turning blue. It was quickly realized that the baby had a congenital heart defect known as a transposition of the greater arteries. With that condition, oxygenated blood incorrectly gets pumped back to the lungs and oxygen-depleted blood incorrectly gets pumped throughout the body. This condition is routinely diagnosed in utero during a fetal anatomy scan. When it is diagnosed, preparations are made for the infant to be delivered by C-section with a pediatric cardiothoracic surgical team ready to perform the procedure to switch the vessels to pump oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs for oxygenation and oxygen-rich blood to the body. Since this condition was not diagnosed, there was no team available for the infant at the delivery hospital. Efforts were made to transfer the infant to a nearby hospital. However, the infant died after five hours of life. An action was brought for the infant’s five hours of pain and suffering. The plaintiff contended that the physician interpreting the fetal anatomy scan should have recommended that the mother return for additional imaging of the heart since blood flow tracts that appear red and blue during a scan was never performed. The plaintiff further contended that had this been performed, transposition of the greater vessels would have been diagnosed and the infant would have lived. Defendant argued that in addition to the transposition, the infant had a Patent Foramen Ovale, which coupled with the transposition made surgical correction difficult and therefore argued the infant would have died anyway. Plaintiff was ready to call a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon who would have argued that PFOs are common in infants with transposition of their greater vessels, and this infant absolutely would have survived. The case settled prior to the defendant’s deposition for $425,000.00.