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OB-GYN under fire for death of pregnant woman's child

A patient's medical history is a crucial piece of information that medical professionals use to both diagnose and treat a patient in the most accurate and appropriate way possible. Certain prior medical problems can even be used to help predict potential future problems, allowing New Jersey physicians to keep a watchful eye on a patient or even advise proactive measures. Unfortunately, one state's medical board believes that an obstetrician failed to take a patient's previous medical conditions into account when caring for her during her pregnancy. The state's medical board also appears to believe that his negligence led to the death of her newborn. 

Due to prior complications, the woman was considered at high risk during her pregnancy. At the time of her pregnancy, she was overweight and had suffered from both gestational diabetes and hypertension during previous pregnancies. In addition to one miscarriage, she had also undergone two C-sections. 

During this most recent pregnancy, the woman reported that she had abdominal pain, but her obstetrician reportedly noted that everything was normal. When protein was detected in urine samples, he apparently ignored the signs of possible kidney damage and instead instructed her to make sure she was drinking enough water. A short time later she was admitted to the hospital for bleeding and severe pain. Her obstetrician did not report to the hospital to examine her, but instead he instructed others to give her medication for hypertension and to ensure that she was hydrated.

Weeks later she was back in the hospital complaining of serious pain. After not feeling any movement from the baby for over an hour, she underwent an emergency C-section during which her uterus ruptured. Sadly, her baby was stillborn.

Although it is unclear whether the patient has decided to pursue legal action against the obstetrician for the death of her child, it is possible that she may choose to exercise her right to seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. New Jersey victims retain a similar right that can be pursued either directly by the victim or by his or her family on behalf of the victim's estate. In the meantime, the state's medical board is considering taking action by either suspending or revoking his license to practice.

Source:, "Medical board accuses local OB-GYN of gross negligence", Courtenay Edelhart, Jan. 21, 2015

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Alan D. Bell
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