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A.W. v Anonymous Physician/Medical Center

Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $3.55 million on behalf of a woman who suffers from neurologic injuries after physicians failed to diagnose and treat her inverted uterus. The plaintiff had a normal vaginal delivery of a healthy baby, after a prior C-section three years earlier. The defendant OB delivered the placenta and noted increased vaginal bleeding. The defendant anesthesiologist checked the patient and confirmed low blood pressure. He assumed blood loss was a likely cause and ordered a stat hemoglobin and hematocrit before returning to his call room. Over the next 1 ½ hours, the patient continued to bleed. Her mother and sister saw the blood and complained to a nurse but were told it was normal post delivery bleeding. The OB then decided to take the plaintiff to the main operating room to explore her abdomen because the main OR had equipment that was not available in the labor and Delivery OR. However, the room was not set up so she had to be returned to the Labor and Delivery OR. As the patient was being moved, she went into cardiac arrest and was immediately intubated and given blood prior to surgery. During surgery, the OB discovered that her uterus was inverted. After her uterus was re-inverted, the plaintiff was moved to the ICU and remained comatose for over two weeks. Since awakening, her condition has slowly improved and she can walk with assistance and communicate, but, due to the nature of her neurologic injuries, has memory loss and requires assistance with all activities of daily living.

The defendant anesthesiologist contended that he properly treated the patient’s drop in blood pressure with medication and expected the OB to call him if bleeding continued. The defendant OB claimed that the bleeding was not excessive and that he was prepared to take the plaintiff back into surgery before she arrested, but was turned away by the surgery nurse and anesthesiologist. The defendant hospital claimed that its nurses all complied with the proper standard of care. However, Dr. Fagel proved that all three defendants were responsible for the patient’s injuries. First, the anesthesiologist was negligent for failing to investigate the patient’s dropping blood pressure and continued bleed. Second, the OB was negligent for failing to recognize and diagnose an inverted uterus until after the patient arrested. Finally, the hospital was negligent for failing to provide adequate emergency surgery facilities.