Published on:

Claim of medical malpractice that resulted in baby suffering neurological complications. Youssef v. Fayez Guirguis, M.D., 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 33390 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019)


This medical malpractice cased involved a patient with a difficult pregnancy and childbirth that resulted in a birth injury to the child. The court was tasked to determine whether the child’s injuries were due to mistakes made by the hospital, the doctors involved, or both.

Background Facts
Ms. Youssef arrived at New York Methodist Hospital (NYMH) in December 2013, referred by her private physician to rule out preeclampsia at 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia and monitored closely. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension) and signs of damage to organs, most commonly the liver and kidneys. It usually develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can affect both the mother and the unborn baby. Symptoms of preeclampsia may include high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria), swelling (edema), sudden weight gain, headaches, vision changes (such as blurred vision or sensitivity to light), and abdominal pain.

Throughout her stay, fetal heart monitor tracings indicated varying conditions, categorized as indeterminate. Despite interventions like repositioning and increased fluids, the tracings occasionally showed concerning patterns, including late decelerations. Despite these signs, the decision to proceed with a cesarean section was delayed until 1:11am, following Dr. Fayez Guirguis’ arrival. Upon delivery, E.A. displayed distress with low Apgar scores and meconium-stained fluid, necessitating NICU admission.

In their medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiffs contend  that the hospital and attending physicians failed to adhere to accepted medical standards. Key issues include a purported failure to properly monitor fetal distress and respond adequately, delays in performing a necessary cesarean section despite signs of fetal distress, and inadequate management of preeclampsia and its complications. These alleged deviations from the standard of care are argued to have directly caused injuries to E.A., including hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, meconium aspiration syndrome, and significant neurological complications as evidenced by abnormal EEG and MRI results. The legal claim seeks compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care needs, and emotional suffering endured by Ms. Youssef and her family, arguing that the hospital’s actions or omissions constituted negligence resulting in harm to the infant E.A.

Whether NYMH’s treatment of Ms. Youssef and E.A. departed from accepted medical standards and, if so, whether these departures caused E.A.’s injuries.

The court determined that there were triable issues of fact regarding NYMH’s adherence to medical standards during Ms. Youssef’s labor and delivery, specifically concerning the management of fetal distress and the decision-making process leading to E.A.’s birth.

NYMH argued that its interventions, including repositioning Ms. Youssef and administering fluids, were appropriate responses to the fetal heart rate abnormalities. They asserted that the ultimate responsibility for decision-making rested with Dr. Fayez Guirguis, who did not call for a cesarean section upon his arrival.

However, plaintiff’s experts, Dr. Brickner and Dr. Sims, countered that NYMH’s failure to accurately monitor and respond to fetal distress, as evidenced by delayed interventions and inaccurate charting, prolonged E.A.’s exposure to hypoxic conditions. They asserted that these conditions contributed to E.A.’s subsequent neurological injuries, including seizures and brain abnormalities.

The court weighed these arguments against the backdrop of medical standards and the duty of care owed to patients under similar circumstances. It considered the expert testimonies and reviewed the medical records extensively to determine whether NYMH’s actions aligned with accepted practices and whether these actions directly led to the injuries suffered by E.A. Ultimately, the court found that there were genuine issues of material fact regarding the adequacy of NYMH’s response to fetal distress and the impact of these actions on E.A.’s health outcomes.

If the plaintiffs in this case prevail, they might be awarded compensation for medical expenses, ongoing care costs, rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, and possibly lost future earnings due to the child’s injuries. This could include covering past and future medical bills, therapies, home care, and adjustments for the child’s condition, as well as damages for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress endured by the child and their family due to the alleged medical negligence.

If you or a loved one have been affected by medical malpractice, it’s important to seek legal counsel to understand your rights and options. Contact an experienced New York medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case and determine the best course of action.

Posted in:
Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information