Board Charges Obstetrician in Baby’s Death


State medical authorities have charged a Panorama City obstetrician with not rendering proper care to a patient who delivered a stillborn baby in a hospital hallway.

The 28-year-old woman, identified in legal documents only as Hilda A., delivered a dead boy “in a precipitous manner” on March 10, 1988, while lying on a gurney in a hall at Granada Hills Community Hospital, officials said.

Dr. Lee S. Brilliant was charged last month by the Medical Board of California with gross negligence and repeated negligent acts. The board, which disciplines doctors and other medical practitioners, is seeking to revoke or suspend Brilliant’s license.

Brilliant could not be reached for comment Tuesday and his lawyer, Henry Lewin, declined comment on the charges. Brilliant, 41, works as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Panorama City office of Burbank Medical Clinic, a receptionist there said.


State Medical Board chief Kenneth Wagstaff charged in legal documents that Brilliant failed to keep accurate records on his patient’s pregnancy and failed to conduct “adequate fetal surveillance” when she was past her due date.

Such monitoring includes tests to determine if a woman’s placenta, which supplies nourishment to the fetus, is wearing out and the baby should be delivered immediately via Cesarean section, said state Deputy Atty. Gen. Sharon F. Derkum, who drafted the charges against Brilliant.

Derkum said the woman, who was in her third pregnancy at the time, was three weeks past her due date and in labor when she was admitted to the hospital at 8:15 p.m. on March 9, 1988.

Despite test results showing “ominous fetal heart rate patterns” and the presence of a thick fluid in the placenta indicating the fetus was in stress, Brilliant “failed to recognize the gravity” of the fetus’ condition, according to legal papers.


Brilliant also aggravated heart-rate problems for the fetus by ordering that the woman be given Demerol, a powerful painkiller, Derkum said.

The doctor decided about 11:30 p.m. that a Cesarean section should be performed. But because the doctor failed to notify a surgical team in advance, the procedure could not be done immediately, Derkum said.

About an hour later, the woman delivered her stillborn child--its umbilical cord wrapped around its neck--in a hallway while being taken to the operating room, Derkum said.

“This is a case of failing to render obstetric care which resulted in the death of a baby. . . . Certainly this was a viable child,” she said.

Derkum said that no date has been set for a hearing in Brilliant’s case and that the doctor has filed a notice that he intends to defend himself.