Medical Malpractice Case Report: $2,618,000 settlement for failure to treat signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy associated with pregnancy

Firm partner Kathleen Flynn Peterson and John F. Eisberg and Wendy Zeller reached a $2,618,000 medical malpractice settlement in a case involving a failure to treat signs and symptoms of cardiomyopathy associated with pregnancy resulting in permanent disability and brain damage to mother giving birth to her first child.  Read the following Minnesota Case Report from the Minnesota Association of Justice (MAJ) Minnesota Case Report:

Selected Results*  

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Association for Justice (MAJ) “Minnesota Case Reports”)

In the summer of 2000, L.P and M.P were expecting their first child. L.P’s due date was August 27, 2000.  In August 2000, L.P. went to defendant Dr. with a blood pressure increase to 130/94 and an 8 lb. weight gain in two weeks.  An obstetrical ultrasound revealed an increased amniotic fluid volume. On reassessment 2 days later polyhydramnios (presence of excess amniotic fluid in the uterus) was diagnosed. At a clinic visit two weeks later the woman’s blood pressure was elevated at 144/102, and at the following day was 150/102.  She was sent home.

Plaintiffs’ maternal-fetal experts would have testified that the defendant’s decision to send her home with elevated blood pressures departed from the accepted standards of medical practice. Her blood pressures alone met the criteria for preeclampsia (disorder of pregnancy that is characterized by high blood pressure) and required hospital admission and evaluation regarding the delivery of her baby. Had client been hospitalized and worked-up for her hypertension, her cardiomyopathy more likely than not would have been diagnosed.

L.P. was admitted to hospital’s ER on August 28, with shortness of breath and abdominal cramping. She was hypertensive with a BP of 141/83, and tachycardic (rapid heart rate). She was then admitted to labor and delivery, where she remained tachycardic, hypertensive (high blood pressure) and tachypneic (rapid breathing).  Plaintiff’s experts would have testified that during her hospitalization, defendant doctors repeatedly failed to adequately investigate client’s tachycardia, hypertension, tachypnea, and shortness of breath.  In addition despite abnormal vital signs, the nurses only reassessed her vital signs sporadically. They failed to adequately assess maternal status, failed to appropriately respond to adverse changes in maternal and fetal signs, and failed to initiate the appropriate safeguards when indicated.

Baby was ultimately delivered by C-section and as the delivery was completed client suffered a cardiac arrest.  Client was transferred to the intensive care unit and evaluated by a critical care specialist. She appeared to be having seizure-like activity. Her chest x-ray was abnormal, showing diffuse bilateral airspace disease, most likely due to edema. Further evaluation, including echocardiogram findings, were consistent with peripartum cardiomyopathy. 

L.P. is permanently disabled from the hypoxic ischemic (damage to cells in the brain and spinal cord from inadequate oxygen) brain injury she suffered.  She lives in a nursing home, and is dependent on care givers for virtually all activities of daily living including eating, toileting, dressing and mobility.

Settlement:                  $2,618,000.00
Case Name:                 M.P., individually, and as guardian for his 
                                   wife L.P.,and their son, K.P. v. Hospital/Docs
Date of Disposition:       Fall, 2005
Attorneys:                    Kathleen Flynn Peterson                      
                                   John F. Eisberg
                                   Wendy Zeller