On November 10, 2020, Kameisha Smith and her husband Christopher awaited the delivery of their baby boy while admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Under the obstetric/gynecological care of Women’s Care Florida, Dr. Suzanne Clemons, M.D., and surgeon was to perform the delivery.
Dr. Clemons performed a Cesarean delivery which resulted in a severe facial laceration that extended from the corner of the minor child’s mouth to his ear where it meets the head, according to the Smiths’ attorney, Wesley Straw of Emerson and Straw, St. Petersburg.
In the lawsuit filed in July, Straw asserts that Dr. Clemons performed the Cesarean delivery outside guidance provided by authoritative medical literature that describes procedures that minimize C-section lacerations.
Such guidance is described in the suit as “using blunt, not sharp instruments to enter the amniotic sac; moving the uterine wall away from the fetus before incision; removing the abdominal wall away from retractors before the delivery, and using blunt entry into the uterine cavity with fingers or bandage scissors.”
However, it is alleged that Dr. Clemons wrote in her operative report that she used a scalpel through the patient’s uterus and into the mother’s amniotic sac.
“This is the most severe facial laceration we probably found in our research. In this case, it is inarguable that she entered the uterus with the sharp end of that scalpel and she did so, so aggressively, that she cut a facial laceration measuring six centimeters (over two inches) … It penetrated the SMAS layer of the musculature.”
Straw indicated that surgeons sometimes use the handled end and not the bladed end of scalpels when performing Cesarean deliveries.
“This case exemplifies medical carelessness,” Straw said. “The doctor to date thus far has been unable to give us any believable or credible explanation as to how this happened in the absence of medical carelessness.”
Straw described one of the challenges the Smiths’ child could encounter.
“He is a black baby and they tend to do worse with facial scarring,” he said. The problem is associated with the formation of keloidal scars which are raised scars from excess collagen present in the skin during healing. They can appear lumpy or ridged.
Straw was asked about future surgeries and healing procedures that could be used to help improve the scar’s appearance.
“As of last report, the option for plastic surgery is on the table but I think the ‘when’ to do it is always the question because the children are still growing. Do you want to wait until the child is fully grown? What the Smiths struggle with is how extreme the treatments are on the child, and they don’t know what kind of child he is going to be in terms of how he handles this type of disfigurement. He might handle it better than others. So the unknown is scary to them.”
Straw said Dr. Clemons’ co-defendant in the suit, Women’s Care of Florida, filed a standard answer to the lawsuit but did not file a Motion to Dismiss.
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