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Mother's intuition about doctor errors results in $2.5M verdict

In 2010, a then 38-year-old pregnant woman was excited to hear that she was having a boy. Her excitement was tempered by the fact that her pregnancy was considered high risk, a fact with which many Oregon residents are also familiar. When she suffered a medical emergency at 36 weeks, she claims that doctor errors led to the death of her unborn son.

After the birth of her first child, the woman discovered that she suffers from two disorders that affect the way her blood clots. The first causes her blood to clot too quickly (Protein S deficiency). The second disorder is exacerbated by pregnancy and causes clots to form in her veins (Factor V Leiden). She and her obstetrician took the appropriate precautions, which included the use of a blood thinner.

At 35 weeks, she developed a pain in her side that was initially diagnosed as bronchitis, but she quickly realized that was not the case. She went to the hospital to be sure that there was not a problem with the baby. The emergency room decided to handle her complaints instead of sending her to labor and delivery. The doctor correctly diagnosed that the South Carolina woman had gallstones and a hematoma, but sent her home with painkillers.

By the next day, the expectant mother was suffering from extensive blood loss. The hematoma had grown from approximately the size of a fist to that of a soccer ball. The baby died from a lack of oxygen.

After all that happened, it might not surprise Oregon readers that she filed a medical malpractice claim against the emergency room doctor that sent her home and the doctor's employer. The jury agreed with the bereaved mother that doctor errors led to the death of her son. The $2.5 million verdict will not bring back her son, but it does provide her with some justice and closure. 

Source: charlotteobserver.com, "After death of unborn son, a rare courtroom victory in medical malpractice case", Eric Adler, June 10, 2016

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