Medicolegal Issues

Endometrial cancer after unopposed estrogen: $7.5M

Notable judgements and settlements


Stroke during delivery: $35.4M verdict: OBG Manag. 2016;28(2):46.

Failure to find breast cancer; later diagnosed at Stage 3: OBG Manag. 2016;28(2):48.


Endometrial cancer after unopposed estrogen: $7.5M
A 42-year-old woman took unopposed estrogen as treatment for reported perimenopausal symptoms from October 2010 through October 2012, although she still had her uterus.

In December 2013, the patient was diagnosed with Stage 3 endometrial cancer. She underwent a radical hysterectomy followed by several rounds of chemotherapy. Despite treatment, the cancer metastasized, leaving the patient with a decreased life expectancy.

Patient’s claim Use of unopposed estrogens by a woman who still has her uterus significantly increases her risk of developing endometrial cancer. The gynecologist was negligent for prescribing the drug.

Physician’s defense The case was settled during the trial.

Verdict A $7.5 million Illinois settlement was reached

Preeclampsia treatment delayed because BP machine failed: $5M
At 31 4/7 weeks’ gestation, a woman went to the hospital. She reported burning pain in her chest, headache, and vomiting.

Two nurses cared for the mother: one who was completing her shift (Nurse A) and another who was beginning her shift (Nurse B). Nurse A stated that the blood pressure (BP) machine was not working correctly when she attempted to assess the patient at admission. When Nurse B took the patient’s BP, it indicated preeclampsia. Shortly thereafter, fetal heart-rate monitoring showed a concerning pattern. Nurse B notified the ObGyn 75 minutes after the mother’s arrival. The ObGyn ordered intervention to treat the baby’s concerning heart rate and, when those efforts failed, an emergency cesarean delivery was performed. The baby was found to have brain damage caused by hypoxia.

Parents’ claim Because the BP machine was not working properly when the mother arrived at the hospital, intervention for preeclampsia was delayed. Preeclampsia caused the baby’s injuries. An earlier cesarean delivery should have been performed.

Defendant’s defense The patient was adequately treated. The injury likely occurred before the mother arrived at the hospital. The case was settled during the trial.

Verdict A $5 million Massachusetts settlement was reached with the hospital and ObGyn.

Standard prenatal scan missed congenital syndrome: $3.75M
A woman receiving prenatal care at a medical center requested an ultrasonographic anatomical fetal scan. A limited ultrasound (US) was performed, and no abnormalities were detected.

Upon birth, the child was found to have Dandy Walker syndrome, a malformation of the brain affecting mobility. The child requires full-time nursing care.

Parents’ claim If a complete prenatal anatomical survey had been performed when requested, the abnormality would have been detected. The mother would have terminated the pregnancy.

Defendant’s defense It is the medical center’s policy to perform complete anatomical surveys only on women with high-risk pregnancies, which this was not. The woman switched health care providers during her pregnancy. A subsequent US performed by the new health care provider did not show a fetal abnormality. The case was settled during the trial.

Verdict A $3.75 million New Jersey settlement was reached with the medical center.

Should mother have been discharged? $700,000 settlement
Due to elevated fetal heart rate, a woman was admitted to the hospital for fetal heart-rate monitoring and then discharged a few hours later. After 2 days, the mother was readmitted for induction of labor, but she was discharged the following day. The next day, she was readmitted when she noticed lack of fetal movement. The infant was stillborn.

Parents’ claim The mother and fetus were not properly monitored; she should not have been sent home after induction of labor. The hospital was negligent for not properly monitoring labor, for not assigning an ObGyn to care for the mother, and for not performing cesarean delivery.

Hospital’s defense The case was settled during the trial.

Verdict A $700,000 Illinois settlement was reached with the hospital.

These cases were selected by the editors of 
OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements, & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska ( The information available to the editors about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Nevertheless, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation and are meant to illustrate nationwide variation in jury verdicts 
and awards.

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