Inmate files suit after harrowing, fatal birth injury ordeal

The thought of giving birth alone is terrifying, both to Texas women who have not yet had a child and to Texas women who have already experienced giving birth. Typically, the delivery process is an anxious time, but one that ultimately results in much joy. In some cases, though, unexpected complications and birth injuries can arise and anticipation can quickly turn to grief.

In one recent birth injury case out of Texas, a female inmate at a Wichita County jail claims she was forced to give birth alone during a period of solitary confinement. According to recently-filed court documents, two years ago, the woman was serving time on a drug possession conviction. While she was in custody, a doctor informed her of her pregnancy. After she returned to jail, the expecting mother began to feel pain and cramping. Her situation was reviewed by an on-duty nurse at the time, who concluded the woman was not in labor.

However, the woman then experienced worsening pain, and attempted to get help and medical attention. Purportedly ignored by both the nurse and other guards, the woman claims she gave birth to a non-breathing baby with an umbilical cord still wrapped around the newborn's neck. Per the lawsuit, CPR was not performed on the baby, and the woman was returned to solitary confinement following the birth.

Her lawsuit accuses both the on-duty nurse, as well as the nurse's employer, of medical malpractice. In addition, the lawsuit claims Wichita County denied the mother access to reasonable medical care. Finally, the lawsuit also names the Sheriff's Office as another defendant. The federal lawsuit connects the baby's death to the alleged malpractice of the defendants.

As those who work in the medical field may know, umbilical cord entrapment is an exceptionally dangerous situation for a baby in the birth process. As the cord wraps around a baby's neck, it can deprive the vulnerable infant of oxygen. Emergency intervention is often needed immediately or else the baby can suffocate or suffer damage to its brain. In the medical community, failure to observe this type of situation, as well as failure to appropriately and quickly respond to it, can constitute the negligence needed for a civil malpractice lawsuit.

Source: KPRC Houston, "Texas woman claims solitary birth in jail," Shelby Lin Erdman & Carma Hassan, May 23, 2014

Categories: Birth Injuries