A Massachusetts woman was receiving prenatal care from a nurse midwifery practice. When the woman’s condition declined a week prior to her due date, a decision was made to induce labor in the hospital. She had a natural vaginal delivery and was to remain in the hospital for observation for 48 hours.
On the second day the woman complained of nausea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. The nurse informed the midwife of the symptoms over the telephone and Tylenol was ordered. Two hours later the midwife was again notified that the patient had worsening abdominal pain. The midwife prescribed oxycodone, again over the telephone. Over the next several hours, the midwife was notified by phone of the patient’s condition but she never came in to examine her.
The next morning the patient was to be discharged and a different midwife examined her. It was noted that the patient was experiencing itching and a rash over her extremities and abdomen, and a complete blood count showed a critical value of 40% band neutrophils. An obstetrician made the decision to discharge the patient.
At home her condition did not improve and her husband called several times to get her help and eventually took her to the emergency room that evening. The woman’s condition deteriorated and she was transferred to another facility, where she was diagnosed with group A strep infection.
After weeks of treatment, her foot was amputated as a result of the overwhelming infection. The woman sued those involved with her delivery and postpartum care.
The verdict: The parties reached a settlement in the amount of $250,000.