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NOTABLE JUDGMENTS AND SETTLEMENTS IN BRIEF
Could cerclage have saved her pregnancy?
A woman who had received prenatal care from an ObGyn gave birth to a baby boy at 19 weeks’ gestation, but he died 2 hours later.
Patient’s claim An earlier pregnancy had ended with fetal loss before 20 weeks due to an incompetent cervix, so this pregnancy should have been watched especially carefully. Also, a cervical cerclage should have been used.
Doctor’s defense At first, the ObGyn claimed there could be no death case because the infant was nonviable. When the court denied a motion to dismiss, the ObGyn claimed the care given to the patient was proper and had no impact on the outcome.
Verdict Tennessee defense verdict. The court had denied a motion to dismiss, finding the baby was viable when he was born, no matter what his life expectancy.
Hysterectomy removes “missing” embryo
A 34-year-old woman went to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a life-threatening cervical ectopic pregnancy. After transfer to a second hospital, a physician tried to remove the embryo, but was unable to find it. He assumed that the remnants of the pregnancy had been passed, and sent his report to the patient’s private gynecologist. During a visit to her gynecologist a month later, the woman reported cramps and pain in the abdomen and was sent to the hospital. The ectopic pregnancy was found, and the embryo was removed by performing an emergency hysterectomy.
Patient’s claim The hysterectomy could have been avoided if the embryo had been removed sooner.
Doctor’s defense The patient’s gynecologist should have investigated the findings of the state’s doctor more quickly.
Verdict $750,000 New York settlement.
Hernia after laparoscopic hysterectomy
After a 47-year-old woman underwent a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy, she suffered a hernia and other complications that required three more surgeries. Only the case against the assistant surgeon in the case went to trial.
Patient’s claim The defendants failed to close the portal created during the surgery.
Doctor’s defense There was no negligence, and the opening was properly sutured.
Verdict New York defense verdict. Post-trial motions were pending.
Patient dies after bowel injury
A 58-year-old woman underwent an uneventful laparoscopic hysterectomy and was sent home a few hours later. On each of the next 2 days, she called her ObGyn to report nausea and was prescribed pain medications. When her condition worsened on the second evening, she was sent to the emergency room and then transferred to another hospital. When her condition was unchanged over the next 3 days, an exploratory laparotomy was performed following a surgical consult. transection of the small bowel showed free spillage and necrosis. One month later, the patient died of multiple organ failure secondary to sepsis.
Patient’s claim The defendants were negligent for failing to diagnose the bowel injury sooner.
Doctor’s defense The patient did not show signs of a bowel injury and had sustained torsion injury to her bowel. Also, earlier intervention would have resulted in the same outcome.
Verdict Kentucky defense verdict.
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, Nashville, Tenn (www.verdictslaska.com). The available information about the cases is sometimes incomplete; pertinent details may be unavailable. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Still, these cases represent types of clinical situations that may result in litigation and are meant to illustrate variation in verdicts and awards.