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Claudia Rocha v County of San Bernardino dba Arrowhead Regional Medical Center

Dr. Fagel achieved a settlement of $1,450,000 on behalf of the surviving husband and five children of a 44-year-old woman who died from brain bleeding and a consequent stroke after delivery. The decedent had been treated at the High Risk Clinic at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center for low platelets and high blood pressure during the final two months of her pregnancy. She was able to vaginally deliver a healthy baby, but was noted to have continuing high blood pressure after the delivery. 12 hours later, she suffered a massive stroke and underwent emergency surgery to treat a large intracerebral hemorrhage, and died the next day.

The defense contended that the decedent suffered a rare and unpredictable complication of pre-eclampsia. They continued by arguing that all treatment was proper, as the treatment for pre-eclampsia includes immediate delivery of the baby, which was done in this case. Nevertheless, Dr. Fagel proved that the defendant was negligent for failing to diagnose severe eclampsia and take proper action. The complications were not unpredictable as the defense argued, and hospital staff had the opportunity to treat the decedent’s condition to prevent bleeding in her brain.