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Rodriguez v. Donley-Kimble, Woman to Woman OB/GYN Medical Group

Dr. Fagel achieved a verdict of approximately $4 million on behalf of the surviving children of a then-pregnant, 36 year old mother who died of infection after doctors failed to remove her dead fetus and placenta in a timely manner. The mother was 28 weeks pregnant when nurses confirmed fetal demise. The on-call obstetrician, defendant Donley-Kimble M.D., ordered that the patient be discharged to return the following morning for induction of labor to deliver the fetus. The patient returned the next morning, Oct. 5, and was seen by her regular obstetrician, Dr. Daniels. Dr. Daniels did not think the mother was at risk as a result of the fetal demise because she had normal vital signs, and ordered the patient to be discharged to return Oct. 9 for induction of labor. The patient returned the morning of Oct. 6 with complaints of pain and bleeding, but had normal vital signs. Dr. Donley-Kimble ordered for her to be discharged once again and return Oct. 9, as originally scheduled, without ever seeing the patient. The patient returned that evening, complaining of pain and with a temperature of 102 degrees. After a complete blood count (CBC) revealed a slightly high blood count, she was admitted to the hospital to be treated for some type of an infection.

On Oct. 7, the defendant finally saw the patient for the first time and ordered an induction of labor with Pitocin and also ordered IV antibiotics. The patient was then given a VBAC consent form for induction of labor, but refused to sign it and asked for a c-section. Later in the day, the defendant told the patient she wanted to avoid a c-section and was optimistic that she would go into labor, although her cervix was thick and closed at the time. At 6:30 p.m., the defendant ordered a hysterectomy for the patient the following morning, claiming she did not want to perform the surgery in the middle of the night in case she needed assistance for an emergency. Surgery began next morning, Oct. 8, and the fetus and marginal placenta were removed. The defendant noted a foul-smelling fluid during surgery and also diagnosed the patient with placental previa. The patient was then transferred to the PACU and continued to have vaginal bleeding for two hours. After a CBC revealed a very high white blood cell count and her blood pressure began to drop, the patient was transferred to the intensive care unit and then diagnosed with septic shock (the defendant knew she had some form of infection but did not know it was Listeria). The patient’s condition continued to decline and she had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator. Her condition continued to decline and she was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 8. An autopsy revealed that the patient died from a Listeria infection and the consequent sepsis resulting from fetal demise due to placental previa and placental accreta.

The defendants contended that Dr. Donley-Kimble started the patient with the appropriate antibiotics and that there was no need to deliver the dead fetus earlier. They continued by arguing that the cause of death was hemorrhagic shock from placental accrete and not the defendant’s actions. Nevertheless, Dr. Fagel and his team of experienced attorneys proved that the defendant’s negligence was a major contributing factor to the patient’s death. Dr. Donley-Kimble failed to recognize the severity of the patient’s infection on Oct. 6 and, therefore, failed to recognize the need to start antibiotics and remove the dead fetus and placenta immediately. Had the fetus and placenta been removed by mid-day on Oct. 7, the patient likely would have survived.