On January 29, 2018, an Oregon medical malpractice jury found in favor of the defendant OB/GYN in a medical malpractice case in which the 25-year-old plaintiff alleged that the defendant OB/GYN was medically negligent in failing to order a test for herpes when the pregnant woman was examined by the defendant in a hospital ER. The pregnant woman had gone to the ER during her third trimester when she experienced bleeding.
During her physical examination of the plaintiff in the ER, the defendant OB/GYN noticed tiny spots on the woman’s vaginal walls that were slightly oozing. The defendant ordered tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea but not for herpes. The sexually transmitted disease tests came back negative. The defendant OB/GYN instructed the woman to follow up with her regular OB/GYN but the woman failed to keep her appointment with her regular OB/GYN that had been previously scheduled for four days after her ER visit. The woman failed to advise the defendant OB/GYN that she had been a sex worker in the past and had engaged in unprotected sex with strangers.
The plaintiff testified at trial that she had been a sex worker in 2009 or 2010 and had also been addicted to cocaine. However, before she became pregnant in 2012, she had stopped using drugs. Regular drug-testing during her pregnancy, which was part of a court-ordered drug treatment program, came back negative (however, she relapsed after giving birth).
Ten days after giving birth in May 2013, the baby was examined by a pediatrician who noticed blisters on the baby’s head but failed to test the blisters for herpes. The baby’s untreated herpes led to brain damage, seizures, and the need for around-the-clock care. The now 4-year-old has some peripheral vision but the extent of his visual impairment is unknown. The child is unable to speak but does make sounds. About once a month, the child has herpes outbreaks on his head that last for about a week during which he must be isolated.
The Oregon medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant OB/GYN committed medical malpractice by failing to order a herpes test. The defense experts testified that the standard of care did not require the defendant OB/GYN to order a herpes test, and argued that the experienced OB/GYN would recognize herpes lesions if in fact they were on the woman’s vaginal walls at the time the defendant OB/GYN examined the woman in the ER. The defense experts further testified that they believed that the woman contracted herpes sometime after she was examined by the defendant OB/GYN in the ER.
The Oregon medical malpractice plaintiff sought $34 million for her child’s lifelong therapy and care, and an additional $12.5 million for her child’s pain and suffering.
The pediatrician who failed to test the newborn for herpes reportedly settled the medical malpractice claims against him before trial.
If you or a family member may have been harmed due to the misdiagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease by a health care provider in Oregon or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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