A Georgia woman's baby was tragically decapitated during delivery due to a doctor's excessive use of force on the infant's head and neck, according to a lawsuit filed by the baby's parents.
The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, accuses Dr. Tracey St. Julian, along with the nurses from Southern Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Riverdale, Georgia, of not promptly performing a necessary Cesarean section for 20-year-old Jessica Ross.
Ross went into labor the morning of July 9, and by 8:40 p.m. she was fully dilated and instructed to start pushing, but she was met with complications as the baby’s shoulder was stuck, a condition called "shoulder dystocia," the complaint stated. Ross continued to push for approximately 3 hours before Dr. St. Julian decided to perform a C-section after trying different methods by applying traction to the baby’s head.
At 12:11 a.m., the baby's body and legs were delivered through C-section, followed by the vaginal delivery of the baby's head. The complaint states that Ross and the baby's father, Treveon Isaiah Taylor, had asked for a C-section earlier, when the baby still could have survived.
The complaint further explains that there were delays in seeking assistance from other health care providers during the entire process and that during their initial conversation hours after the delivery, Dr. St. Julian omitted the information that the baby had been decapitated.
"When Ms. Ross and Mr. Taylor demanded to see and hold their baby, hospital staff told them that they were not allowed to touch or hold their child. Hospital staff allowed the young couple to only view their dead child. During this viewing, their baby was wrapped tightly in a blanket with his head propped on top of his body in a manner such that those viewing him could not identify that he had been decapitated," a spokesperson for the attorneys representing the couple — Dr. Roderick Edmond, Keith Lindsay, and Cory Lynch — told Scripps News. "Ms. Ross and Mr. Taylor were not told about the decapitation until July 13, 2023, 3 days after the delivery and a full day after Ms. Ross had been discharged from the hospital."
The lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
The Clayton County Police Department has also opened an investigation into the death of the baby.
Scripps News has reached out to Southern Regional Medical Center for comment, and was provided with the following statement:
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event. Our prayers also remain with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient.
As our deepest sympathies remain with the family, Southern Regional Medical Center denies the allegations of wrongdoing in the Complaint referencing the hospital. Due to patient privacy laws and HIPAA, we are unable to discuss the care and treatment of specific patients, but we can state this unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to the delivery and decapitation. The hospital voluntarily reported the death to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s office and is cooperating with all investigations. Since this matter is in litigation, we cannot provide additional statements.
Dr. St Julian is not and never has been an employee of the hospital.
Our commitment is to provide compassionate, quality care to every single patient, and this loss is heartbreaking for all involved.
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