On July 18, 2013, a Maryland medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $513,129.00 for the loss of her fallopian tube due to a certified nurse midwife’s alleged negligent failure to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes after the four-day trial.
The 27-year-old Army specialist had been experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding along with cramping and clotting for a period of eleven days when on April 11, 2011 she went to a certified nurse midwife who was employed by an obstetrics and gynecology practice located north of the Baltimore area. The midwife doubled the woman’s birth-control medication without conducting a pregnancy test or even performing a physical examination of the woman. The midwife also failed to consult with a physician regarding the woman’s condition or her treatment. On April 18, 2011, the woman was again seen by the certified nurse midwife, who again failed to perform a pregnancy test.
Four days later, the woman had to be rushed from her army barracks to the hospital where she had emergency surgery after it was determined that her fallopian tube had burst due to an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg does not implant itself in the lining of the uterus, where its suppose to occur, but rather outside of the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes, which carries the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Such a pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is not viable because the egg cannot survive and the growing tissue can cause destruction of other internal structures of the mother’s body. An ectopic pregnancy can become life-threatening due to possible blood loss. It is imperative that an ectopic pregnancy be treated early so that the mother’s chances of becoming pregnant and carrying the baby to full term in the future is preserved.
The Maryland medical malpractice plaintiff filed her malpractice claim in court on June 29, 2012, alleging that the certified nurse midwife deviated from the applicable standard of care by her failure to perform a pregnancy test on the woman, who was sexually active. Had she done so, it was alleged that the ectopic pregnancy would have been discovered and addressed early enough so that it would not have progressed to the point where the woman’s fallopian tube burst.
The medical malpractice defendant (the obstetrics and gynecology practice) argued that it was reasonable for the certified nurse midwife to have believed that the woman was suffering from breakthrough bleeding as a common side effect of the oral contraceptive that she was taking.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded the woman $500,000.00 for her non-economic damages (pain and suffering) and $13,129 for her past medical expenses.
The case was captioned Cheryl Schenck v. Susquehanna Obstetrics & Gynecology, Case No.: 12C12001775, Circuit Court for Harford County.
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