Lawsuit against Cooley Dickinson claims botched childbirth

For The Recorder
Published: 3/24/2016 10:03:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A South Hadley couple is suing two doctors based at Cooley Dickinson Hospital for allegedly mishandling the birth of their daughter, saying delivery problems resulted in the child being born with permanent brain damage.

Deirdre and Christopher McDaniel, whose daughter, Ansleigh, was born with cerebral palsy, allege in their suit, filed Friday in Hampshire Superior Court, that doctors Jay Sprong and Lisa Stephens neglected to explain the risks associated with vaginal birth after previously delivering via cesarean section, which is how Deirdre had her first child.

The suit is the latest of several legal actions related to alleged problems with the Childbirth Center at Cooley Dickinson. At least five other serious incidents — including three fatalities, two of them infants — between 2012 and early 2014 prompted a state Department of Public Health investigation.

After the state investigation, Cooley Dickinson officials said they implemented measures designed to prevent staff fatigue and improve communication and training in the Childbirth Center. The hospital was also required to submit a corrective action plan to DPH.

Deirdre McDaniel was admitted to Cooley Dickinson on June 19, 2013, when her water broke and was advised by Sprong that she could proceed with a vaginal birth, according to the suit.

But during the procedure, the baby’s heart rate began to drop — from about 150 beats per minute to as low as 50, the suit states — at which point doctors performed an emergency C-section.

During the procedure, Stephens found the infant “floating in a blood-filled abdominal cavity,” as a result of McDaniel’s uterus erupting, according to the suit. Before that, doctors failed to recognize the child was at risk, the parents say.

The baby, the suit states, was first taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield to keep her body temperature down and then to Tufts Medical Center in Boston to be treated for potassium deficiency, excess glucose in her bloodstream, seizures and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — which is when the infant is injured or impaired due to lack of oxygen.

Medical staff feared that Ansleigh may have also been septic at the time.

Deirdre McDaniel said Wednesday that she could not discuss the case when contacted by a reporter, and Cooley Dickinson spokeswoman Christina Trinchero said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation. The McDaniels’ attorney, Lauren Olanoff, of Springfield, could not be reached for comment.

Six months after Ansleigh was born, on Dec. 30, 2013, Pamela Sampson, a 32-year-old Hadley woman, died after doctors performed a C-section at the hospital, according to court records. Her family filed a suit against the hospital in August 2015.

Sampson was unresponsive for more than 10 hours before hospital staff realized she had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage, according to that suit.

The doctors in the McDaniels’ case, Sprong and Stephens, both work at Hampshire Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates Inc., an entity of Cooley Dickinson. Hampshire OBGYN itself is also listed as a defendant, according to the suit.

The injuries suffered by both McDaniel and her daughter directly resulted from the “negligence, carelessness and lack of regard for Deirdre’s health, care and well-being ...” by Sprong and Stephens, according to the lawsuit.

The McDaniels, who allege 13 counts of medical negligence against the doctors, are seeking unspecified compensation for personal injury and costs associated with continued medical treatment for the child, the suit states.


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