Lawsuits Allege Wrongful Deaths of Babies at Tenet South Fulton Hospital

Three babies lost their lives due to the negligence of health care providers at South Fulton Medical Center within a two-month period this summer, as alleged in the recently filed lawsuits.

According to the lawsuits, physicians and other health care providers failed to recognize the signs of early labor in one of the cases, delayed a caesarean section delivery in another case and failed to recognize fetal distress in a baby who was born brain dead and lost his life four days later.

The lawsuit was filed against Tenet South Fulton, which operates the 338-bed community hospital in East Point, as well as numerous doctors, OB/GYN practices, midwives and other medical personnel.

South Fulton Medical Center said in a statement that its top priority is to provide safe, quality health care.

“While it is not appropriate to comment on specific patient care, we deny allegations of negligence in the complaints and will vigorously defend ourselves through the legal process,” the hospital said.  “South Fulton Medical Center has faithfully served the community for nearly 50 years. We continue to dedicate our efforts to putting patients first and providing quality care to our community.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages for pain and suffering, loss of deceased infants’ future earnings, medical expenses and punitive damages.

Another lawsuit filed on behalf of Tangela Phillips, a 20-year-old woman whose baby was born at South Fulton Medical Center in November 2010. The suit contends that instead of performing a caesarean section, physicians improperly used a vacuum device to deliver the child, who was permanently damaged with nerve palsy.  When recently interviewed, Phillips and two other plaintiffs expressed anger at the quality of care they received.

Angel Milan, a 30-year-old woman said that she was 37 weeks pregnant when she noticed decreased fetal movements. She was admitted to the hospital on May 21st.  After the fetal monitor detected a heartbeat, she was scheduled for a caesarean section delivery for later that afternoon and sent home.  For some reason, the delivery was delayed until the next morning and by that time, it was too late, she said. Her baby was pronounced dead shortly after the May 22nd delivery.

Milan stated that she was told her baby had been dead for three days prior to delivery. However, an autopsy determined that the baby died within 24 hours of delivery, the lawsuit said.

Milan says, “I don’t want another woman to go through what I went through.”

Seven months pregnant, Shan Davis, a 22-year-old woman was admitted on July 23rd complaining of back and lower stomach pains, a high fever and decreased fetal movements, her lawsuit said. Instead of undergoing specific tests to rule out pre-term labor, Davis was given acetaminophen and sent home after being told she “had the flu,” the suit said.

Davis’ pain became so severe that she returned to the hospital a few hours later. She gave birth to a 1 pound, 15 ounce baby who was pronounced dead shortly after birth, the lawsuit said.

The third lawsuit, filed by Quachasity Houston, an 18-year-old from Atlanta, who was 39 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital on July 17th. Her lawsuit said that doctors failed to properly diagnose that she needed a caesarean delivery until it was too late. Her baby was born with no brain activity and died four days later after being taken off life support.

South Fulton Medical Center’s ratings vary, based on quality of care.

While its performance is comparable to many other hospitals in some areas, it has struggled in other comparisons.  The new national rankings by nonprofit Leapfrog Group recently gave South Fulton a “D” rating on an overall score measuring patient safety regarding prevention of errors, infections, injuries and medication mix-ups. South Fulton is one of five Georgia hospitals to receive a “D” or “F” in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Score ratings.

The hospital said it is committed to providing care in a safe environment and participating in efforts that measure hospital performance.

“While scoring methods differ by organization and none provide a complete picture of the care provided to patients, we use this information to continually improve the care we provide,” its statement said. “We are actively reviewing key data and implementing action plans to drive improvements.”

These three lawsuits occurred within a two-month period.  Do you feel that the hospital’s staff was negligent in sending these pregnant women home?  Perhaps if the women were admitted overnight rather than being sent home, they would have had monitors detecting any serious problems before it was too late. Not sure why one woman was told her baby was dead for three days prior to delivery, when an autopsy confirmed the baby’s death was within 24 hours of delivery.

Feel free to comment on this blog post.  Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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