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Newborn is Killed by Untreated Infection

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on September 27, 2017

Neonatology Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Wisconsin and involves a mother who gave birth to an infant through a normal vaginal delivery. The child was lethargic, and exhibited multiple troubling symptoms immediately after birth. The mother was known to have a pre-existing bacterial infection that could endanger her child, however prenatal records do not indicate that the mother was instructed to arrive early for delivery so antibiotic therapy could be administered. The infant was admitted into the ICU due to bacterial meningitis, where he later died. It is alleged that antibiotic therapy could have prevented the infection and that the mother should have been warned to come to the hospital sooner given her positive status for the bacterial infection.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely treat patients similar to the one described in the case? Please explain.
  • 2. Have you ever had a patient develop the outcome described in the case? If so, please explain.
  • 3. Should antibiotics have been given to the baby as a precaution? What difference would it have made if they had been?
  • 4. Do you believe this patient may have had a better outcome if the care rendered had been different?
  • 5. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above? If so, please explain.
  • 6. Please tell us why you’re qualified to serve as an expert reviewer of this case.

Expert Witness Response E-001354

I frequently treat patients born to mothers with this particular infection. American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines state that if a child born to a mother who has not received antibiotics during labor (as was the case here, since the mother did not arrive at hospital before the delivery) and the infant appears ill, then the infant should have blood cultures and receive antibiotics at birth. In my opinion, it’s likely that if this had occurred, the patient may not have developed meningitis. For this reason, I believe the case described warrants further review. I have reviewed a similar case in the past involving infection in a neonate and would be happy to assist on this matter, too.

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