A Kentucky doctor botched a baby’s delivery as he worried about possibly missing a flight to start his vacation, witnesses told state officials.
Dr. Gerald W. Thorpe tried to deliver the baby in September at T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow using forceps, but caused extreme bruising to the infant’s head, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Monday.
An 18-page complaint filed last week by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure details the allegations against Thorpe, who told another doctor who ultimately delivered the child via C-section that he had somewhere else to be on Sept. 13.
“When he saw me, he began breaking the bed down,” Dr. John Craddock recalled in the complaint. “He approached me and said, ‘I need you to do this C-section, I have to leave for vacation.’”
Minutes later, the expectant mother and her child were brought into the room with a prolapsed umbilical cord and Craddock delivered the “very unresponsive infant,” who had extreme bruising to his head from forceps used by Thorpe, according to the complaint.
“If I don’t put a vacuum or forceps on, I will miss my flight,” a nurse recalled Thorpe saying, according to Craddock’s account.
A nurse assisting the mother told the board the delivery had been proceeding slowly when Thorpe told the parents he could get another doctor to deliver their child or use forceps “because he has a plane to catch,” according to the complaint.
The parents then told Thorpe to do what he thought was best, prompting the doctor to ask the nurse for the forceps. He pulled three times using the device around the baby’s head, causing the prolapsed umbilical cord that can cut off oxygen to the child, witnesses said.
Thorpe then tried to attach a vacuum device to the child’s head to deliver him, but that was also unsuccessful. Craddock later arrived and delivered the “non-responsive” infant, whose heartbeat wasn’t detected for more than four minutes, according to the complaint.
The infant, who had seizure-like activity, was placed on a ventilator and received numerous medications before being taken to another hospital, another nurse said.
The complaint did not indicate what happened to the child in the aftermath of the delivery, which was characterized by Craddock as a “significant deviation” from standard care.
TJ Regional Health, which runs the hospital, terminated Thorpe’s contract after the incident. An emergency order was filed in June barring him from handling deliveries, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
An attorney for the doctor, meanwhile, said he intends to “vigorously” fight the allegations.
“We are confident he will be completely vindicated once he is given an opportunity to be heard in this matter,” attorney Daniel G. Brown told the newspaper.
A hearing on the complaint has been set for early January. Thorpe, who has been licensed to practice obstetrics/gynecology in Kentucky since 2015, faces “appropriate disciplinary” actions in the incident, according to the complaint.