Delayed Treatment Infection Control. Untreated infection led to uterine damage, patient alleged.

FACTS & ALLEGATIONS On March 23, 2001, plaintiff was admitted to defendant hospital, where she was to deliver her second child. plaintiff’s first child was born via a Caesarean delivery. This time, plaintiff wanted to attempt a vaginal delivery.

Doctors administered a small dose of Pitocin, a drug that increases the frequency and intensity of uterine contractions. After six hours, the drug was discontinued, so plaintiff could sleep.

The next morning, March 24, defendant assumed care of plaintiff. Defendant restarted the administration of Pitocin, but plaintiff’s contractions did not progress quickly.

At approximately 5:50 the next morning, March 25, plaintiff became feverish. She was administered Tylenol. At approximately 8 a.m., doctors determined that plaintiff had developed an infection. She was administered antibiotics. Doctors suspected that she had also developed chorioamnionitis, inflammation of the membrane that covers the fetus. Furthermore, the fetus had developed tachycardia—abnormally fast heart activity. Plaintiff’s cervix was dilated to 8 centimeters and 100% effaced. However, the labor continued to progress slowly. At approximately 8:50 a.m., a C-section was performed, and a healthy baby was delivered.

Shortly thereafter, doctors determined that plaintiff had developed uterine atony, or incomplete contraction of the uterus. The condition causes heavy bleeding and, in plaintiff’s case, it necessitated performance of a hysterectomy.

Plaintiff claimed that her infection should have been anticipated when her fever was detected. She contended that antibiotics were administered some two hours later, and that the treatment delay led to the development of her uterine atony. She argued that a C-section should have been performed at approximately 5:50 a.m. on March 25, when the fever was detected.

Defendant acknowledged that plaintiff became feverish at approximately 5:50 a.m., but he argued that she was close to being capable of undergoing a vaginal delivery. As such, he contended that it was appropriate to allow time for such a delivery. He further contended that plaintiff was given antibiotics and Tylenol and that her condition was monitored.

Defendant also argued that the infant was not infected and that its tachycardia was simply a reaction to plaintiff’s fever. As such, he contended that the C-section was performed in a timely manner. He added that uterine atony is unpredictable and that it can occur as a result of many different types of circumstances.

INJURIES/DAMAGES hysterectomy plaintiff developed uterine atony that necessitated performance of a hysterectomy. She sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering. Her husband presented a loss-of-services claim.

RESULT The jury rendered a defense verdict. It found that defendant rendered acceptable treatment.