Poor nursing communication tied to death of mother hours after delivery of her baby

There’s a heartbreaking trend going on in America now. Other developed countries are seeing the death rate of moms during pregnancy go down. In Texas and the United States, our maternal death rate is headed in the opposite direction—it’s going up.

A recent medical malpractice wrongful death case in Kansas tells a sad story that underscores this unacceptable direction in our health care.

A 35-year-old expectant mother went to a hospital emergency room having a panic attack and high blood pressure. An emergency physician decided that she needed an emergency C-Section.

Within hours after the successful cesarean delivery of her little boy, this mom started struggling to breathe. She told her nurse that she was having breathing problems. According to the lawsuit, the nurse waiting a full 20 minutes before letting a doctor know.

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer, I’ve seen time and time again the danger of a communication breakdown between nurses and doctors. The truth is that physicians are generally in and out of patient rooms, and it’s the nurses that are there minute by minute.

When doctors aren’t there, they depend on the nursing staff to be their eyes and ears and to notify them when there’s a change in a patient’s status. When there’s a communication failure, physicians are left in the dark, don’t know to come and see the patient, and can’t make necessary diagnoses, treatment decisions, and orders.

That’s exactly what the family of the new mom said happened after the nurse was notified of her breathing problems. By the time the nurse got around to notifying a doctor about her patient’s breathing issues, it was too late for them to save her. When physicians arrived in her room, they couldn’t find a pulse.

This poor lady died from pulmonary edema, a condition where fluid collects in the lungs and makes it hard to breathe.

Acute pulmonary edema comes on rather suddenly and is a medical emergency. It’s tragic that this lady died in a hospital, where nurses and doctors could have quickly come to her rescue. After all, it can usually be successfully treated with Lasix and blood pressure medications.

The signs of acute pulmonary edema include:

• Having a hard time breathing, particularly when lying down or being active

• Gasping for breath or wheezing

• A productive cough that may have blood in it

• Bluish lips

• Heart palpitations, or a rapid, irregular heartbeat

When the case went to trial, the hospital denied that its nurse made a mistake. The jury disagreed and awarded the family of this deceased young mom $6 million.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by poor nursing or hospital care, then a top-rated Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney can help you fight for justice.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.