On October 5, 2017, a Massachusetts medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $4 million in favor of the plaintiff in a Massachusetts medical malpractice case in which the plaintiff alleged that a 36-year-old woman died due to medical negligence shortly after she gave birth to a healthy baby. The $4 million Massachusetts medical malpractice verdict was for the woman’s pain and suffering, and will be distributed to her four children.
The Massachusetts medical malpractice jury deliberated for four days after a four-week trial before determining that the defendant obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) breached the standard of care and that such breach was the proximate cause of the woman’s death. The Massachusetts medical malpractice jury cleared another OBGYN named as a defendant as to any wrongdoing contributing to the woman’s death.
The woman gave birth in 2008 by cesarean section delivery. While her newborn was healthy at birth, the woman died within hours of giving birth. The Massachusetts medical malpractice case was filed in 2011 and alleged that, despite the medical examiner’s mistaken determination that the woman died from an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), which is unpreventable and is a rare condition, the woman actually died from hemorrhaging due to uterine atony (where the uterus fails to contract after birth). The plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney argued that uterine atony leading to hemmorhage is the most common cause of maternal death and that AFE is the rarest cause of maternal death. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney said after the jury’s verdict, “We argued that they overlooked the most common cause and claimed it was the rarest cause, and we were effective in getting the jury to believe that it was uterine atony, not AFE.”
The plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney further stated, “This was a long road to justice for the family. The child that was born is now nine years old. These cases can take a lot longer than they should but it is rewarding when justice is ultimately served. [The jury’s verdict] will dramatically help the lives of four young children even though their mother can’t be brought back.”
The caption of the Massachusetts medical malpractice wrongful death case is Jan W. Whiting, Administrator of the Estate of Marie Gabriel-Gelin v. Shobha Sikka, M.D., et al., Case No. 2011-01080-B, Norfolk County Superior Court, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
According the the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Approximately 3% to 5% of obstetric patients will experience postpartum hemorrhage. Annually, these preventable events are the cause of one-fourth of maternal deaths worldwide and 12% of maternal deaths in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines early postpartum hemorrhage as at least 1,000 mL total blood loss or loss of blood coinciding with signs and symptoms of hypovolemia within 24 hours after delivery of the fetus or intrapartum loss. Primary postpartum hemorrhage may occur before delivery of the placenta and up to 24 hours after delivery of the fetus.”
Uterine atony is responsible for most cases of postpartum hemorhage and can be managed with uterine massage in conjunction with oxytocin, prostaglandins, and ergot alkaloids.
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury (or worse) during labor and/or delivery in Massachusetts or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Massachusetts birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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