While in the final stage of labor at the North Shore Medical Center in Miami, Marla Dixon’s obstetrician made a series of missteps which caused a heartbreaking outcome for Dixon’s baby boy. The obstetrician, Dr. Ata Atogho, ordered nurses to re-start a contraction-strengthening drug, neglected to perform a C-section when it was definitely warranted, then walked away from the mother in labor several different times—once long enough to take an eight-minute phone call from his stockbroker.
By the time the baby boy finally made his way into the world on December 2, 2013, his tiny limbs were limp, and his face was blue from lack of oxygen. While a medical team was able to revive the baby, he suffered a birth injury of severe brain damage due to that lack of oxygen. The parents of the injured baby claimed birth injury malpractice, filing an ob-gyn malpractice lawsuit against Atogho.
Mother Blamed for “Not Pushing Hard Enough”
In the lawsuit filed by the parents, claiming medical malpractice during childbirth, Dixon claimed Atogho blamed her for the baby’s birth injury, saying the 19-year-old mother was not pushing hard enough. Atogho then falsified the medical records of the young mother, claiming she refused a C-section—a claim the delivery nurse disputed. A Florida jury awarded Dixon and her husband a $33.8 million birth injury malpractice settlement award. While Dixon said the judgement will certainly help pay for a lifetime of round-the-clock care for her son, she also says she is still waiting for an apology from Atogho.
More Young Mothers Sue Atogho for Birth Injury Malpractice
Dixon later found out she was not the first grieving mother to sue Atogho for seriously injury to a newborn—two other babies delivered by Atogho the same year had permanent brain damage, while a third was left disabled for life. All four of the mothers were young and were receiving care at Jessie Trice—which serves many of the uninsured and low-income residents of Miami. One of the teen-aged mothers accused Atogho of rushing her through the delivery, finally implementing a vacuum device which ultimately disfigured her infant daughter, causing permanent damage to the neck and shoulder nerves. Another mother alleged Atogho ignored the signs that her baby was in distress, waiting too long to perform a necessary C-section and leaving the baby girl with permanent brain damage.
Doctor Now Has Private Practice and No Blemish on His Medical License
Yet despite the huge verdict in Dixon’s case, as well as the additional lawsuits and judgments, Atogho has not received so much as a reprimand. Absolutely no disciplinary actions against his medical license have been taken and Atogho is not on the hook personally for the judgments. The federal government must pay Dixon and other plaintiffs who are awarded judgments against Atogho because the doctor worked for a federally funded health clinic. Atogho signed a contract with Jessie Trice in 2012, receiving $350 for each baby delivered. Atogho later left Jessie Trice—not because he was asked to leave, rather because he chose to go to private practice, with privileges at Jackson North Medical Center and Memorial Miramar Hospital in Broward County.
Doctor Ignored Category 3 Fetal Heart Rate
Experts who testified in the Dixon case claimed Dr. Atogho failed to act on clear signs of fetal distress; when Atogho arrived, the baby had a “category 3” fetal heart rate which is the most ominous reading possible. A category 3 fetal heart rate indicates the infant is being starved of oxygen and blood, placing it at risk of death or brain damage. Three different times, Atogho attempted to deliver Dixon’s baby using a vacuum device, never recommending a C-section despite the difficulties and the baby’s distress.
One of the medical experts who testified at the trial claimed if Atogho had performed a C-section once it became clear the baby was in distress, then “within a reasonable degree of medical probability the baby would not have suffered damage.” Dixon’s son was finally delivered with only a nurse present while Atogho was out of the room, with Atogho returning five minutes after the birth to cut the umbilical cord. Baby EJ went home two months after his birth, however he has endured 30 hospitalizations since his birth, has a feeding tube, scoliosis, cerebral palsy, and cannot sit up without falling over or speak.
Helping Clients Who Were Victims of Birth Injury Malpractice
According to the Birth Injury Guide, approximately 1 out of every 9,714 people in the United States are born with a birth injury, and nearly half of those birth injuries could have been avoided if the obstetrician had identified obstetrical risk factors. Clients whose babies have been injured following an instance of medical malpractice could find themselves facing a lifetime of pain and expense. USClaims can help your client pay the day-to-day expenses associated with caring for a brain-damaged or otherwise injured child in anticipation of a court judgment or settlement. Call 1-877-USCLAIMS today for the information and help you and your client need and deserve.