Dr. Gingrich on defense stand in Madison County med mal trial

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 4, 2007

An area obstetrician will testify Thursday morning on her behalf to defend allegations that she deviated from the standard of care when delivering a baby who suffers from Erb's Palsy.

Judy Thiel of Collinsville, filed suit against Dr. Tina Gingrich and Anderson Hospital on Feb. 5, 2004, alleging Gingrich failed to perform a caesarian section when she had been in the second stage of labor for approximately three hours and the labor failed to adequately progress.

Madelyn Thiel was born Aug. 15, 1998.

Thiel also alleges Gingrich failed to stop the administration of Pitocin during labor when it was apparent that there was an arrest of descent when a shoulder dystocia was present, failed to order or perform screening or testing for gestational diabetes, failed to respond to a prolonged second stage of labor and failed to note, record or properly consider the measurements of her birth canal in assessing the risk for shoulder dystocia.

She further alleges Gingrich failed to properly assist, or order others to assist, the delivery of Madelyn from 5:40 a.m. through 8:40 a.m. of the day of delivery while inducing labor, improperly applied traction to the head, neck and shoulders of Madelyn during delivery, applied traction to Madelyn's head when the head was half out, allowed nurses to apply fundal pressure to her prior to the delivery of Madelyn's shoulders and applied excessive traction to the fetal head and neck prior to the delivery of the infant's shoulders.

Thiel also alleges Gingrich failed to properly administer or regulate medications during her labor and delivery, failed to properly supervise the nurses and others assisting the labor and delivery and improperly delayed delivery because of the lack of available space at Anderson Hospital.

According to Thiel, Madelyn was caused to suffer physical and emotional injuries that are permanent and progressive including shoulder dystocia resulting in injuries to her right shoulder and arm, brachial plexus and the nerves, muscles and tissues including an Erb's palsy with a grade four or five deltoid injury and internal rotation contracture, torticollis and brain injury and dysfunction.

Thiel claims Madelyn had undergone numerous medical and surgical procedures to correct or mitigate the effects of the Erb's palsy, physical therapy, special education and programs and educational and other testing.

She also claims Madelyn has and will continue to suffer mental and physical disability, emotional harm, and a disability in her ability enjoy life and conduct her social and economic affairs and future income.

Thiel claims she has been damaged because she has become obligated to pay Madelyn's medical expenses, physical therapy expenses, extraordinary educational aids, evaluations and programs and other expenses related to Madelyn's injuries.

When Gingrich takes the stand she is expected to testify that she met the standard of care in her professional management of Judy Thiel, including her prenatal care and care during Madelyn's labor and delivery.

She also is expected to testify:

  • That no predictive risk factors existed for shoulder dystocia which would have either required or suggested the need for elective C-section prior to labor;

  • That it was appropriate to induce labor on Aug. 14, 1998, and that the ultrasound performed four days prior showed typical levels of amniotic fluid;

  • That she appropriately examined and monitored Thiel during stage one of labor;

  • That the standard of care does not require her to set her alarm or to otherwise wake herself up during the night to determine the progress of a patient in labor but can rely on the nursing staff at Anderson Hospital to assess the patients condition and call when appropriate;

  • That Thiel was exhausted from active stage one labor and did not push effectively;

  • That she properly identified shoulder dystocia which is a significant emergency which can lead to the death of a fetus; and

  • That nothing she did contributed to Madelyn's Erb's palsy.

    Gingrich is represented by Ransom Wuller of Belleville.

    David Damick of St. Louis represents Thiel.

    Before the trial began on Oct. 2, Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian heard Gingrich's motions in limine.

    Gingrich wanted to prevent any reference of any kind to insurance because it is highly prejudicial and irrelevant. Matoesian agreed.

    He also agreed that talks of settlements can not be brought up along with any other medical malpractice cases that have been filed against Gingrich.

    However, Matoesian denied Gingrich's motion that sought to exclude any testimony or evidence as to criticisms that do not amount to a deviation from the standard of care.

    He also denied a motion that sought to exclude any expert opinions from treating physicians that was not disclosed in discovery depositions, interrogatories ot expert disclosure statements.

    The trial is expected to last through Friday. Thiel is seeking damages in excess of $300,000, plus costs of the suit.

    If a verdict is awarded to Thiel it will be reduced because Anderson Hospital settled the case with Thiel.

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