Legal: Severe postpartum infection

September 1, 2008

Six days after twin delivery, patient develops postpartum infection.

A 25-year-old Tennessee woman delivered twins in 2003. Six days after delivery she experienced a gush of bloody fluid and called her obstetrician's office. The nurse she spoke to told her to take a wait-and-see approach. An obstetrician in the group reviewed the call card. The patient was seen by a doctor 5 days later. She had obvious signs of an infection and exploratory surgery was performed. She did not improve and developed sepsis, ARDS, and continuing complications until her she died 2 months later.

In the lawsuit that followed her death, it was alleged that the phone call should have resulted in the nurse or the physician instructing her to go to the emergency room. It was also alleged that earlier treatment of the uterine infection would have prevented her death.

The physicians claimed the call was properly handled and she was assessed in a timely fashion. They specifically claimed the sepsis did not begin until 3 days after the office visit and that her death was due to a pulmonary condition and complications from her Crohn's disease. A defense verdict was returned.