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CONTACT 13: Doctor accused of drinking before baby delivery

Posted at 4:46 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 14:02:34-04
Two things no mother wants to hear from her doctor while giving birth -- "tequila" and "happy hour."
One valley woman heard both and that's why she's suing a local hospital, claiming the doctor was drinking before delivering her baby. 
The baby suffered injuries that will last a lifetime.  
Dr. Frank DeLee is heard saying "Wasn't that many people in the bar when I left" on cell phone video.
Then a nurse asks "I'm sorry. Did you waste a drink?"
Dr. DeLee was openly talking about drinking while Alex Sims was in induced labor and facing a possible C-section at Sunrise Hospital in May 2015, according to Sims.
Alex's doctor was on vacation. Dr. DeLee was the hospital's on-call obstetrician and gynecologist at the time.  
Alex's family were recording video of the birth on a cell phone. 
Nurse: "So... Is Belvedere that you just had to pour out? Is that what...?"
Dr. DeLee: "No, tequila." 
After discussing his booze of choice, you can see something odd in the video. 
"It turned out to be the doctor who is barefooted, in his Bermuda shorts," says attorney Cal Potter who represents Alex. He says the system betrayed the entire Sims family. 
"It's a very disturbing sequence of events that took place," says Potter. 
"I kept telling the doctor I can feel everything," Alex explains. "I think the epidural wore off. And he's like, 'Oh just scoot your fat ass down' and 'Oh, I bet you wish your doctor would have came back in town.'"
It sounds too bad to be true. But on the video Dr. DeLee is heard saying, "I was told not to say lift your fat ass up and don't you wish Richter stayed in town this weekend now?" referring to Alex's doctor. 
"It was just jaw dropping," Alex says. "I just couldn't fathom why all this was going on in the midst of me having a child." 
Alex's mom, Sheree, says she knew something was wrong when the doctor walked in the door. 
"I smelled alcohol. That's what preceded the conversation about him coming from the bar. Because I said, 'Oh, he smells like alcohol.'"
On the video, there's more banter about booze. 
Voice off camera: "You were already at happy hour?"
Dr. DeLee: "Well look what time it is."
Nurse: "He's been at happy hour since he left my C-section."
They even talk about the type of tequila he had and which bar he was at.  
So, could it all boil down to bad taste and poor judgment joking?  
We reached out to Dr. DeLee. He said his lawyer advised him not to talk with us on camera. We tried to provide an email address so he could send a statement instead but he hung up.   
Sheree says once her grandson, Jared, was delivered her heart sank.
"Because the baby's arm went like this. And I said, 'Something's wrong with his arm. What's wrong with his arm?'"
According to the lawsuit, Dr. DeLee's rough delivery of Jared caused Erb's Palsy -- paralysis to the arm due to nerve damage.
"I think any person should be horrified," says Potter who named the hospital and nurses in the lawsuit too, adding they had a duty to stop Dr. DeLee. 
Medical experts hired to review the case determined Dr. DeLee used "inappropriate techniques by pulling" Jared's arms. And the doctor "failed to diagnose and recognize the pressure of shoulder dystocia." 
According to court documents, Dr. DeLee denies any liability while Sunrise Hospital asked the court to toss out some of the claims. 
"What we want to do is hold them accountable for the actions which we believe resulted in the injuries to her son's shoulder," says Potter.  
Contact 13 learned this wasn't the first time Dr. DeLee delivered a baby with the same type of injury.  
According to Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners records, Dr. DeLee settled a 2012 case of  "negligent vaginal delivery resulting in shoulder dystocia." And Dr. DeLee has another half dozen reports of possible malpractice involving insurance payouts and settlements totaling more than $2.7 million. 
"It's very surprising because if he has a track record," Alex says. "I don't understand why he still has a license to practice."
Alex worries about her son's future limitations and about other families who may find themselves in similar situations.
"Someone needs to be accountable," Alex says.  "And I just feel like, if I don't speak up for my child, who will?"

If you're wondering your doctor's record, you can check out the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiner's website.