New mother dies after normal delivery
<court>Cook County (Ill) Circuit Court</court>
A few hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, a 36-year-old woman began experiencing abdominal discomfort and back pain, which was diagnosed as a distended bladder and musculoskeletal pain. She received analgesics, but subsequently experienced pain in her abdomen and right shoulder so severe that she could not move.
Approximately an hour later, the woman suffered 2 seizures. Nursing staff identified these as eclamptic seizures and called the attending physician at home. Soon after, the woman’s blood pressure began to fall and she was brought to intensive care, where she was intubated and received blood due to low hemoglobin.
Though a surgical team was assembled, the woman could not be stabilized for surgery. She died soon after. Autopsy revealed the cause of death to be intraabdominal hemorrhage due a ruptured pancreatic cyst.
The woman’s family sued the hospital, alleging that if nursing staff had contacted the physician sooner, blood administration would have begun earlier, allowing the woman to get to the operating room for surgery.
The defense argued that the woman hemorrhaged too quickly for an effective intervention to occur. Further, it maintained that the nurses’ assessment of eclamptic seizures was reasonable.
- The jury awarded the plaintiff $12.4 million.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn (www.verdictslaska.com). While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.