Crime Watch Daily confronts doctor accused of delivering baby after day of drinking alcohol
12/01/2016 12:00 pm PST
He's the baby doctor who was delivering punch lines in the delivery room, caught on video, allegedly drunk, as a woman gives birth. He's heard saying he's come to the hospital straight from the bar.
And now he's about to get a sobering wake-up call from Crime Watch Daily.
The Sims family could not have been happier about the news: A baby boy was on the way.
Alexandria Sims, who works as a preschool teacher, was expecting her second child, Jared.
"I was just expecting to deliver a healthy baby," said Sims. "Jared was healthy the whole time I was pregnant."
So when it was time for baby Jared to enter the world, the family gathered in the delivery room at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.
"Once the contractions started, I just kind of zoned out from everything," said Sims.
The Sims family recorded the delivery on camera, as they had for all their babies. All was going as expected for an induced labor. Mom's contractions were getting stronger, and she was pushing harder. It was time to call the doctor.
"I was a bit shocked because when he walked in, he kicked off his shoes, he was like in everyday wear, he had on shorts. I don't know what I was expecting, I guess a doctor to be in scrubs, put the gloves on," said Dana Crenshaw, Jared's aunt.
Alexandria's regular obstetrician was out of town. So the hospital's on-call doctor, Frank DeLee, would be the one delivering the baby. The first red flag: He would be doing it barefoot.
"I'm kind of like a germaphobe, so the whole barefoot thing, it really threw me off," said Crenshaw.
But something much stronger threw off grandma.
"I was behind a curtain when he initially came in the room. Then when he passed by I said, 'Ooh, I smell alcohol,'" said Sheree Crenshaw Sims, Alexandria's mother.
"On his breath, you can smell it as he was talking," said Dana Crenshaw.
While the family sized up the doctor sent by the hospital, Alexandria just concentrated on breathing and pushing.
With cellphone cameras recording, the doctor and nurses start joking about Dr. DeLee's alleged drinking.
Nurse: "You were already at happy hour?"
DeLee: "Well, look what time it is."
2nd Nurse: "He's been at happy hour since he left my C-section."
Nurse "So where is happy hour?
DeLee: "We were at Tommy Bahama's."
Listen Dr. DeLee tells the nurses he was at a bar when he got called in to deliver Jared, a call which may have upset the doctor because next, we hear him where it sounds like complaining about wasting his drink.
Nurse: "Is it Belvedere you had to pour out?"
DeLee: "No, tequila."
It's obvious from the video the mother is exhausted, so she asks the doctor for a sip of water.
Alexandria: "Can I have something to drink, please?"
DeLee : "No. If anyone gets anything to drink, it'll be me."
And about the last thing a woman in labor, with her legs up in the air, wants to hear from a man she just met:
DeLee: "I was told not to say 'Lift your fat ass.'"
The family admits they nervously laughed along and went with it because they say they were so uncomfortable with what was happening.
"Honestly, everything was happening so fast, with him being the only on-call doctor, what do you do? Tell her close her legs and keep the baby in there, just hold on?" said Dana Crenshaw.
"I was having a baby, I couldn't just get up and walk," said Alexandria Sims.
"We were stuck in a rock and hard place, we had to use the services in which the hospital rendered to us," said Sheree.
When Jared, their precious baby boy, finally arrived, something clearly wasn't right.
"When he initially got him out and held him ... Jared's arm went limp," said Sheree Crenshaw Sims.
Imagine the shock when you are moments away from delivering a baby and the doctor walks in the room wearing Bermuda shorts and is barefoot. Making things even more troubling -- he's joking about being at the bar. Was it a tasteless joke gone too far -- or was it negligence?
Crime Watch Daily went to Las Vegas to give Dr. Frank DeLee a chance to tell his side of the story.
Alexandria Sims is suing DeLee, the delivery room nurses and Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas for malpractice and negligence, claiming Dr. DeLee had been drinking right before he delivered her baby Jared.
"He was born with that birth injury out of negligence," said Sheree Crenshaw Sims. "You should have not been coming from no bar."
The family says their cellphone video is all the evidence they need.
Dr Frank DeLee, the nurses and the hospital deny any wrongdoing, and say in court records they "acted according to their best judgment."
Alexandria Sims claims her baby's shoulder apparently got stuck while coming out of the birth canal, causing Erb's palsy and shoulder dystocia.
"The nerves in Jared's right side were stretched out when he was coming out of the birth canal from the way he was pulled," said Alexandria. "It caused nerve damage in his right side. He has limited mobility, range of motion."
In court documents, Dr. DeLee, the doctor on call the afternoon of the delivery, says he "provided emergency obstetrical care" "in good faith" and the "injuries" were "caused by a pre-existing condition."
"Jared was a healthy baby before he was born," said Alexandria. "And this is something that happens when the baby is coming out of the canal and how whoever is pulling the baby out handles the baby."
The Sims family attorney, Patricia Marr, says it was the doctor who caused the birth injury and the according to the Journal of Prenatal Medicine this type of labor-related injury poses a huge risk to mother and baby.
"He failed to perform certain maneuvers that were necessary to prevent such harm," said Marr.
Going over the video frame by frame: "It's an admission," said Marr. "He's discussing how he was drinking before he came in to deliver our client's baby."
"The complaint alleges first and foremost that he was intoxicated during the delivery of the child," said Marr.
If Dr. DeLee was drinking, he could be in big trouble. The Nevada State Legislature has a law on the books that can lead to disciplinary action, or denying a doctor's license.
It states: "Inability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety because of illness, a mental or physical condition or the use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics or any other substance."
It's obvious on the video that something is wrong with one of Jared's arms. On the left side of the screen you can see his arm is completely stretched out and stiff, unlike the rest of his body, which is curling from having just been in the womb. Though it's hard to hear over Jared's screams, you can make out grandma saying in the delivery room "What's wrong with his arm?"
This medical condition has been life-altering for Jared, who is now a year and half old.
"Jared's been going to therapy since he was 3 weeks old," said Alexandria. "He has physical and occupational therapy."
The therapy has helped Jared regain some movement, but he will still need surgery, says his mother.
DeLee and the hospital deny all the allegations and actually put the blame back on the mother, accusing her of "negligence and carelessness" because she "failed to mitigate the damages" in her own care for the infant and assumed risks involved in child birth.
"I'm not the one to blame, you are the one to blame, because you were intoxicated delivering a baby," said Alexandria.
Is it possible he was just joking about drinking?
"I don't believe that he was just joking about drinking at all. You don't joke around like that, especially when you are delivering somebody's baby," said Alexandria.
"It wasn't a joke," said Sheree Crenshaw Sims. "I clearly smelled alcohol."
Crime Watch Daily reached out to DeLee through his attorney, but we never received a response. So we caught up with him outside his medical office in Las Vegas. He declined to speak on camera, but did say, "No comment. If you see the whole tape you'll see a different story."
We investigated Dr. DeLee further and discovered he's been sued at least twice for allegedly causing the exact same birth injury, shoulder dystocia, in babies he delivered. Both lawsuits were settled, one for more than $800,000.
A search of court records and the Nevada Medical Board reveals Dr. Frank DeLee has been sued at least nine times for malpractice.
Sunrise Hospital wouldn't talk to Crime Watch Daily, but did give us a statement: "The care provided at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center by our staff was appropriate. We will vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations."
As for Jared, his mother worries how he will manage.
"I don't want my child to be bullied in school because of how he looks or how he carries his arm," said Alexandria.
And she has a strong message for Dr. DeLee. What would she consider justice?
"For the doctor to take responsibility for what he did," said Alexandria. "For him to not practice anymore, because he can't be out here drinking and delivering people's babies. I don't what this to happen to anybody else. I'm just Jared's voice."
In the lawsuit, the hospital claims the mother was told of the risks associated with childbirth, saying in part: "the risks and consequences" ... "were fully explained," and the mother "consented to such treatment and thereby assumed the risks."
"We have a strict code of conduct that governs the behavior of the physicians who practice in our hospital, and though we cannot comment on any specific case due to confidentiality restrictions, you can rest assured that we thoroughly investigate an assertion of any violation of those standards of behavior." -- Fran Ford Jacques, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center vice president of marketing, wrote in a statement to Crime Watch Daily Thursday.