US government to pay $11.5M over hospital birth

SETTLEMENT: The Department of the Navy has denied wrongdoing in a medical negligence lawsuit filed following the birth of a baby at Naval Hospital Guam, shown in this rendition from the NHG Facebook page. The federal government has agreed to pay the family of the baby boy $11.5 million in the lawsuit. Rendition from U.S. Naval Hospital Guam Facebook page.

The federal government will pay $11.5 million in a medical negligence lawsuit filed by the parents of a baby born at Naval Hospital Guam in 2014.

On Dec. 11, 2017, the Department of the Navy denied the claims of D.B., Deardre D. Bebeau, and Daniel J. Bebeau Sr.

On Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia approved the monetary settlement, which is expected to help the Bebeaus care for their child.

Deardre and Daniel Bebeau Sr. were stationed on Guam in 2014 but now reside in Virginia. They filed the lawsuit against the federal government, stating their son "suffered severe, disabling, and permanent brain damage."

The lawsuit alleged that members of the medical team at Naval Hospital Guam failed to properly and timely resuscitate and intubate the baby at birth and during the newborn period, failed to recognize and ignored obvious signs of distress due to lack of or compromised delivery of blood flow and/or oxygen, failed to timely and properly recognize the obvious risks of meconium aspiration, and failed to perform necessary and timely interventions before he suffered a permanent brain injury. Meconium refers to an infant's first stool.

Deardre Bebeau, then 40 weeks 3 days pregnant, went to the mother-baby unit because she was experiencing painful contractions that started around midnight, documents state.

At 1:56 a.m., the baby boy was born. Documents state, “Thick meconium was noted at birth. D.B. was noted to be floppy and nonvigorous.”

His Apgar score, which rates a newborn baby’s health on a scale of 1-10, was 1, the least favorable on the scale.

The baby was “intubated for suctioning below the cords, but the meconium aspirator had fallen behind the bed and was not readily available,” documents state. The aspirator was retrieved or replaced, documents state. The doctor “instead decided to simply perform bulb suctioning instead of performing deep suctioning in D.B.’s airway.”

By 2:04 a.m., hospital staff had the “newborn intubated and suctioned with meconium aspirator” but with little change.

“At approximately 2:06, 10 minutes of life, D.B.’s Apgar score continued to be reported as a 1,” documents state. “Eventually the anesthesia provider suctioned through the endotracheal tube and breath sounds and color change on the capnography immediately approved.”

The baby had to be moved to the Guam Memorial Hospital and on Dec. 4, 2014, the baby was transferred to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii where, according to the allegation, D.B. had “a profound brain injury compatible with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy with extensive involvement of the basal ganglia extending into the brainstem with possible optic tract involvement.”

"As a result of the medical care that he and his mother received at U.S. Naval Hospital, Guam, D.B. sustained significant and permanent brain damage. Had D.B. been timely and properly evaluated, treated, and resuscitated in a timely manner, he would not have suffered permanent neurological damage, cerebral palsy, and its numerous and lifelong" aftereffects, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit initially sought $150 million for the family’s injuries and losses, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, expenses, legal fees, and all other and further relief and damages, documents state.

Recommended for you