Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They killed her patient. Then they tried to hide it.

I suggest reading the whole article


The patient died because of a series of unfortunate anesthetic complications, compounded by inadequate medical response.
Because maternal deaths are now so rare, my state, like most states, mandates an official investigation. The investigation is conducted by the hospital, and evaluated by the Department of Health. As a participant at a critical juncture in this woman’s care, I was interviewed extensively by a senior member of the obstetrics department and a member of the hospital administration.

I was very angry at the care the patient received from the anesthesiologists, because I believed that her death had been entirely avoidable. I did not hide my anger during the interview, going to so far as to say that I felt that the anesthesiologists had essentially killed the patient. The people who interviewed me seemed uncomfortable with my conclusions and with my anger. They repeatedly suggested alternative explanations for the unfortunate incident, but I was not swayed. Others might reach different conclusions, I acknowledged, but this was my conclusion.

Several years later I was contacted by my medical malpractice insurance carrier and advised that a malpractice case had been filed against the anesthesiologists. This was not surprising. Virtually every maternal death is followed by a malpractice suit, even when the death was unavoidable. As a participant in the patient’s care, I would be deposed by the patient’s lawyer. Consistent with its obligations, the malpractice insurer had hired a lawyer to defend me during the deposition.
She found out that the hospital had falsified her original statement. Fortunately, her husband is a lawyer, and insisted she make copies. Otherwise, she would not have been believed.

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