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Mother sues Victoria Women's Clinic for malpractice

By Gheni_Platenburg
Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:27 a.m.


A Victoria woman is suing her obstetrician over claims that her son was injured during birth as a result of the doctor's negligence.

Anna Flores sued Dr. Tanya Elise Seiler and the Victoria Women's Clinic on behalf of her son Natividad Barrientes, a minor, in district court in late November.

Flores claimed Seiler failed to engage in appropriate medical decision-making concerning the need to deliver the infant via Cesarean section instead of vaginally.

As a result, Barrientes developed shoulder dystocia.

"It's a traumatic injury," said J. Todd Trombley, the plaintiffs' Houston-based attorney. "The doctor failed to exercise ordinary care. That is the definition of negligence in the state of Texas."

Earlier this month, the defendants filed a formal response denying the allegations.

"Defendants would state that plaintiff's injuries or damages, if any are proven, relate to or were caused in whole or in part by pre-existing conditions," according to the response.

Messages left for the Victoria Women's Clinic and William Abernathy, the clinic's Corpus Christi-based attorney, were not returned as of Friday afternoon.

Flores was treated in September 2009 for the labor and delivery of her child.

The lawsuit contends that medical records indicated before delivery was attempted, Seiler knew or should have known that the infant was at high risk for experiencing shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury based on several risk factors.

These risk factors included Flores' diabetes and maternal obesity; Barrientes' excessive birth weight; and the usage of epidural anesthesia.

Additionally, Barrientes' protracted descent through the birth canal was another indication he was vulnerable to injury, according to the lawsuit.

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby's head is delivered through the vagina, but his shoulders get stuck inside the mother's body behind the mother's pubic bone. If this happens, the remainder of the baby does not follow the head easily out of the vagina as it usually does during vaginal deliveries, creating a risk for both mother and baby, according to the March of Dimes website.

Shoulder dystocia can result in injury to the nerves in the baby's shoulder, arms and hands, which can cause shaking or paralysis; a broken arm or collarbone; a lack of oxygen, which can cause brain damage and death; and even Erb's palsy, according to shoulderdystocia.com.

"Despite the evidence concerning this risk factor to Ms. Flores and Nate, Dr. Seiler ignored it, or failed to appreciate it in caring for these patients," according to the lawsuit. "These risk factors for Ms. Flores should have been a 'red flag' for Dr. Seiler."

The lawsuit also asserts that Seiler was negligent because she applied traction to the baby's head to free his shoulder, failing to use any rotational maneuvers that did not include pulling on the head.

Flores is seeking damages for past and future physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment and medical care expenses as well as future loss of earning capacity.

"We hope that we prevail and that we can take care of the child's future needs," said Trombley.

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