Baby's brain damage blamed on hospital delivery

A family is suing the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority after they say their baby experienced a traumatic birth causing lifelong effects.

Interlake hospitals didn’t have equipment, staff or capabilities to perform birth, lawsuit says

A family has filed a lawsuit after a childbirth at the Eriksdale E.M. Crowe Memorial Hospital in 2015. (Google Maps)

A family is suing the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority after they say their baby experienced a traumatic birth resulting in lifelong effects.

In a statement of claim filed at Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench last week, the family said the health region didn't have experienced staff or necessary equipment when the baby was born. The family alleges that left the newborn with inadequate oxygen and a spinal cord injury, which caused brain damage, a developmental delay and paralysis.

The lawsuit also names two nurses and a doctor.

None of the statements have been proven in court. The health region and staff have 20 days to file a statement of defence.

The mother, from the Fairford First Nation, was 34 weeks pregnant when she started to feel back pain and abdominal cramping around 11 p.m. in April 2015, according to the statement. A pregnancy typically lasts about 37 to 42 weeks counting from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period.

She was driven to the hospital in Ashern, Man., about 54 kilometres south from the First Nation, and arrived around 2:30 a.m. but there was no physician working, the lawsuit said.

An ambulance was called to bring the mother to Eriksdale E.M. Crowe Memorial Hospital, about 40 kilometres south of Ashern, where there was a doctor. The mother arrived around 3:30 a.m. and the doctor told her it was time to push, the statement said.

There weren't the right machines or equipment available for delivering a baby, specifically ones who are higher risk, the lawsuit said. The hospital lacked fetal monitoring machines, forceps, vacuums or resuscitation equipment.

At 6:10 a.m. the doctor called St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg to consult with the on-call obstetrician, according to the lawsuit.

After the baby's head came out during the delivery, the family alleges the doctor used excessive force to pull the rest of her body out causing a spinal cord injury. At 6:15 a.m. the baby was born face up with a distended abdomen.

The statement said when the baby was tested one minute after birth the little girl wasn't responding well, she was rated one on the APGAR's test.

The baby needed resuscitation and her heart rate started to drop. The doctor called Manitoba's Neonatal Transport Team (NTT) and by 7 a.m. the baby's heart rate had fallen to 98 beats per minute, the statement said.

There wasn't a baby warmer at the hospital so one had to be brought from Ashern but it didn't arrive until after 8 a.m., the statement said. Once she was placed inside the warmer her heart rate went up to 120 beats per minute.

NTT arrived at the Eriksdale hospital around 9 a.m. and the baby was immediately intubated. She was transported by ambulance to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg around 11: 20 a.m.

The family said because of the "traumatic delivery" the baby had spinal cord injury, paralysis, motor impairment and brain damage with intellectual and behavioural impairment.  

In the statement the family said the health region failed to let the community know that the Ashern and Eriksdale hospitals didn't have the equipment, staff or capabilities for a "fully serviceable obstetrical and neonatal" facility. They also didn't transport the mother to a Winnipeg hospital, about 140 kilometres away, even though it was an option, the statement said.

The family alleges the health region failed to provide caesarean section services or chart the fetal heart rate every five minutes, as is protocol.

The family is asking for medical costs and future care costs, as well as trusts for the mother, father and baby.

In an emailed statement, the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority said they can not address inquiries involving personal health information nor can they speak to those where they are involved in legal proceedings.