Trial starts for Yakima OB/GYN accused of permanently injuring newborn
A Yakima OB/GYN accused of injuring a baby in a 2013 delivery is in trial this week in Yakima County Superior Court over a medical malpractice lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Dr. Kevin Harrington — an obstetrician and gynecologist at Generations OB/GYN in Yakima — permanently injured a baby during a delivery by failing to adjust his treatment after the birth became more complicated.
Jennifer and Thomas Wilson filed the lawsuit in 2015 against Harrington and Generations OB/GYN on behalf of their son, who they say suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury because of Harrington’s treatment.
According to the lawsuit, when Jennifer began receiving prenatal care from Harrington in September 2012, she showed risk factors for shoulder dystocia, which is when a baby’s head is delivered, but the baby’s shoulders fail to deliver immediately.
The lawsuit says this should have lead Harrington to offer Jennifer a cesarean section, but when Jennifer went into labor in April 2013, Harrington “negligently proceeded with a vaginal delivery,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit argues that Harrington did not tell Jennifer the risks of that delivery method and therefore, failed to obtain her informed consent for the procedure.
The lawsuit further argues that if Jennifer had known the risks and potential consequences of her treatment, she would not have accepted it and the injury to her son could have been avoided.
During the delivery, the lawsuit says Harrington properly diagnosed shoulder dystocia, but failed to use appropriate techniques to mitigate the condition.
Instead, the lawsuit says Harrington deviated from the standard of care, “applying excessive lateral traction” — essentially pulling harder on the baby’s head and neck.
When Jennifer’s baby was finally delivered, doctors noticed he wasn’t moving his left shoulder or elbow and he was taken to the NICU, the lawsuit said.
The boy was diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury. He’s undergone nerve surgery, medical treatments and physical therapy, but has “severely impacted” the use of his arm, the lawsuit said.
“[The boy] has suffered and will continue to suffer great pain of body and anguish of mind, has been and will continue to be hospitalized,” the lawsuit says. “[He] has been and will continue to be unable to pursue normal activites and his ability
to enjoy life has been permanently adversely affected.”
The lawsuit alleges that Harrington has, “utilized excessive lateral traction of such severity that the traction has led to permanent injuries on at least three other occasions,” including this case.
In court documents, Harrington and Generations OB/GYN have denied all accusations presented in the lawsuit.
The Wilson family is asking the court to award compensation for medical expenses, non-medical care and services, loss of earning capacity and general damages.
According to the Generations OB/GYN website, Harrington attended the University of Washington Medical School, completed his OB/GYN residency at UCLA and came back to Yakima in 1982.
“I am blessed to be allowed to participate in the most exciting, rewarding event in a young couple’s life; the birth of their children,” Harrington says on the website. “It is a privilege that I continue to cherish even after approximately 7,000 deliveries.”
The trial is expected to last about two weeks.