A Florida court recently granted a widower’s plea for a new trial regarding the death of his wife during childbirth. Eleven years after her death and seven years after a jury ruled in favor of the medical defendants, the Florida Supreme Court threw out the 2007 verdict and granted the plaintiff a new trial. The victim’s husband now has a second opportunity to present evidence about the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.
According to an article in the Sun Sentinel, the plaintiff’s wife gave birth to their son in June of 2003. In the minutes following his birth, she began to seizure. Her body went into cardiac arrest and she lost consciousness. The new mother reportedly remained in that condition for five hours, before passing away. In his lawsuit, her husband alleged that the hospital was at fault by failing to monitor her health and inadequately treating her condition as it rapidly worsened.
The hospital’s defense reportedly hinged on the assertion that the mother’s death was the result of a rare pregnancy condition called amniotic fluid embolism. However, according to the report, the medical examiner found no evidence of the condition during the autopsy. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to grant a new trial was reportedly based on the exclusion of two pieces of evidence during the trial. One was alleged witness tampering and the other involved the alleged misdiagnosis.
What is Amniotic Fluid Embolism
According to the Mayo Clinic, an amniotic fluid embolism occurs when fetal material, like hair, or amniotic fluid enters the expectant mother’s blood stream. During pregnancy, the fetus is protected inside the uterus by the amniotic fluid that surrounds it. If it leaks out, and enters the bloodstream, it can create a deadly situation for the mother. Though it is a rare condition, it is very serious and requires immediate treatment.
Mayo Clinic staff report that the exact causes of the condition are not known. However, several risk factors have been identified:
—Pregnancy in women 35 years of age and older
—Abnormalities found within the placenta – This may include the placenta peeling away from the uterus walls or the placenta covering the cervix.
—Several labor induction methods are linked to an increased occurrence of amniotic fluid embolism.
—Researchers say that genetics may also play a part in the condition’s risk
—Some forms of delivery are linked to an increased occurrence of amniotic fluid embolism, including C-sections, forceps deliveries and vacuum extractions.
—Preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during delivery
As argued in the Florida case, a diagnosis of amniotic fluid embolism may prove inaccurate. Medical professionals may use the condition to cover up other mistakes or misdiagnose additional problems that increased the risk of embolism. When this occurs, an experienced attorney can assist the victim’s family in determining liability and securing compensation.
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