Woman sues doctor, hospital over twin's death

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 23, 2008, 1:00pm

Alton Memorial Hospital

The mother of a twin who died shortly after birth has filed a wrongful death complaint against Dr. Tim Kisabeth and Alton Memorial Hospital, alleging the defendants deviated from the standard of care when delivering her child.

Katherine Grieve claims she became a patient of Kisabeth on June 29, 2007, after learning she was pregnant. A month later, she had an ultrasound that showed she was carrying twins, court papers say.

According to the complaint filed July 16 in Madison County Circuit Court, her pregnancy was considered "high risk" and was given an ultrasound due date of Feb. 1, 2008.

She claims throughout her pregnancy she was receiving precautionary care for risk of premature labor. Serial ultrasounds given through Dec. 29, 2007, showed that no abnormalities.

Grieve claims she went to the Alton Memorial Emergency Room on Jan. 4 with symptoms of premature labor and was sent to labor and delivery for observation. She was noted to be 36 weeks pregnant by ultrasound.

According to Grieve, about two hours after arriving at the hospital, one of her amniotic sacs containing the twins ruptured.

Grieve claims after five hours at the hospital she was given an epidural. She said after the pain medication was administered the infants' heart rates slowed.

She claims Kisabeth ordered her labor to take place in the operating room in case of complications. The first baby was born at 8:22 a.m., and placed on a respirator.

According to Grieve, Kisabeth waited 34 minutes before attempting to start delivering the second twin and at 8:56 a.m.

The doctor ruptured the second amniotic sac and placed a scalp electrode on the baby that showed a flat heart rate.

At 9:39 a.m. the second twin was born and was reported blue with no heart rate, Grieve claims.

The second twin, she said, had a one minute Apgar score of zero, a five, ten and fifteen minute score of two and a twenty minute score of one.

The baby was transferred to St. Louis Children's Hospital to receive specialized neonatal care.

"Life support was removed 5:55 a.m. on January 5, 2008, and she was pronounced dead," the complaint states.

Grieve claims an autopsy was performed and showed that cause of death was hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or damage to the brain and central nervous system from a lack of oxygen.

Grieve claims Kisabeth and Alton Memorial negligently deviated from the standard of care by:

  • failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress and acidosis;

  • failing to emergently deliver the second twin with either a vacuum, forceps, or cesarean section when there was fetal distress and acidosis;

  • failing to have a pediatrician or neonatologist available at the time of delivery when they knew or should have known given the prolonged decelerations in both babies that occurred after the epidural; and

  • failing to have adequate personnel to accommodate the timely delivery of the babies.

    Grieve claims as a result of the child's death, the next of kin have suffered great losses of a personal and pecuniary nature including the loss of companionship and society subjecting the next of kin to great grief, sorrow and mental suffering.

    Grieve is seeking damages in excess of $200,000, plus fees and costs. She is represented by Eric Carlson of Carlson & Carlson in Edwardsville.

    Carlson hired Dr. John P. Elliott, the medical director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., to fill out the required certificate of merit.

    Dr. Elliott commented that in his opinion there is a meritorious case against Kisabeth and Alton Memorial because the second twin fetal heart rate indicated fetal acidosis.

    Elliott said the second twin needed immediate delivery however Kisabeth deviated from the standard of care by delaying delivery until adequate staff was available.

    The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

    08 L 642

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