Medical Verdicts

Egg retrieval plus heparin and aspirin Rx cause bleeding, death


Philadelphia (Pa) Court Of Common Pleas—A woman with infertility and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APA) was advised to have heparin and aspirin therapy in addition to invitro fertilization. On the day of oocyte retrieval, 18 eggs were harvested. An ultrasound was performed immediately afterward, which showed a large amount of free fluid in the patient’s pelvis.

About 3 hours later, the patient underwent treatment for APA at another site, during which she became hypotensive. The nurse terminated the therapy and contacted the woman’s physician, who arrived about 90 minutes later. When he examined the patient, she was lethargic and hallucinating. At that time, her husband, an Ob/Gyn, was contacted. He transported her to the hospital where he worked and performed emergency surgery, discovering a massive hemoperitoneum. The bleeding was controlled, and the patient was transferred to an ICU postoperatively. However, 2 days later she suffered a cardiac arrest; 9 days later, she died.

In suing, the husband claimed the ultrasound had demonstrated a large amount of blood in his wife’s abdomen. Further, he argued that his wife bled for 5 hours while under the physician’s care.

The physician countered that he had not been made aware of the ultrasound findings. Additionally, he claimed the woman should have been taken to an emergency room and that her husband was emotionally distracted during the surgery. Furthermore, he maintained that since the decedent and her husband were both physicians, they were aware of the risks involved in administering aspirin during egg retrieval, including the possibility of internal bleeding.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $25 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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