Legal: Failure to diagnose preeclampsia alleged

September 1, 2008

Preeclampsia not diagnosed, placental abruption follows, and fetus is stillborn.

A 30-year-old Illinois woman presented to the hospital in 2000 during her pregnancy. A UTI was diagnosed and she was admitted overnight for monitoring and treatment and was discharged the next day. Two days later, she developed eclampsia and had a placental abruption and the fetus was delivered stillborn. She was admitted to the ICU for 9 days with complications, including thrombotic episodes and temporary blindness.

She sued the physicians and hospital and claimed they failed to diagnose preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome when she was first admitted and were negligent in releasing her from the hospital.

The physicians argued that the placental abruption, stillbirth, and complications were due to antiphospholipid-antibody syndrome that was unknown to them at the time. They maintained the diagnosis of UTI was correct and that the patient was given instructions to see her obstetrician within 24 hours of discharge from the hospital and she failed to do so. The hospital settled for $125,000 just prior to trial and a $1.8 million verdict was returned against the treating obstetrician.