Obstetrics: Jury Finds Nurses’ Failure to Monitor Patient Led to New Mother’s Death; $3M Verdict

April 12, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A jury in Georgia awarded more than $3 million to the parents of a woman who died in a hospital three days after giving birth there. Two nurses were held liable for the patient's death. According to a published report, the patient sought treatment at a hospital emergency department for shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia and transferred to the hospital's main medical center where, the next day, she gave birth to a healthy baby.

After delivery, the mother experienced a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and elevated respiration rate. She was transferred to the intensive care unit for one day, after which she was returned to the maternity unit and was scheduled for discharge under a cardiologist's follow-up care. However, the patient again complained of shortness of breath, and a hospitalist was consulted. The hospitalist ordered a series of tests, as well as a computed tomography (CT) scan, and ordered the patient transferred to another unit for a "medical-surgical" level of monitoring. After an hour, although some tests were performed, the CT scan remained pending and the patient had yet to be transferred to the advanced monitoring unit. The patient's condition deteriorated and she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. Hospital records reportedly indicated that nursing staff did not take the patient's vital signs during a three-hour period before she went into cardiac arrest. An autopsy report stated findings of an enlarged...

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