Maria Gabriel-Gelin, 35, was admitted to a hospital to deliver her fourth baby by Cesarean section. During labor and delivery, the treating obstetrician noted that she had an atonic uterus and a hole in her small bowel, which needed to be surgically repaired. She also suffered from anemia.
She lost a substantial amount of blood during the delivery and was later transferred to the post-anesthesia unit of the hospital under the care of obstetrician Dr. Shobha Sikka.
That evening, nurses paged Dr. Sikka and reported that the patient was experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding. Dr. Sikka noted that despite medication, Gabriel-Gelin’s uterus was again atonic. An atonic uterus most often occurs because of over-distention or as the result of multiple pregnancies. An atonic uterus is a major cause of postpartum hemorrhaging. The word “atonic” means loss of muscular tone or strength to contract.
Within an hour after the report of heavy vaginal bleeding, Dr. Sikka ordered a blood transfusion and later, fresh frozen plasma. Additional attempts to control the bleeding, including an emergency hysterectomy, were unsuccessful. Unfortunately, Gabriel-Gelin died from cardiac arrest.
She had been a transactions processor and was earning more than $32,500 annually. She was survived by her four minor children.
The Gabriel-Gelin family filed a lawsuit against Dr. Sikka and her medical group alleging improper treatment of postpartum hemorrhaging. The Gabriel-Gelin family claimed that in light of all the risk factors, including her atonic uterus, anemia and recent blood loss, Dr. Sikka should have ordered an immediate blood transfusion and plasma products to sustain her.
The jury’s verdict was $4 million for pain and suffering, which must have had a component of wrongful death. There was no report of that element of damage as part of the jury’s verdict.
The attorneys who successfully handled this tragic case were Jeffrey N. Catalano, Maria Davis and Corrina Hale.
Whiting v. Sikka, No. 11-01080 (Mass. Super. Ct. Norfolk County).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling labor and delivery negligence lawsuits, birth trauma injury cases and wrongful death cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Brookfield, Countryside, Willowbrook, Naperville, Bloomingdale, Oak Lawn, Oak Forest, Schiller Park, River Grove, Elk Grove Village, Chicago (Little Village, Brighton Park, North Lawndale, Washington Park, Jackson Park, Little Italy, West Town, Ukrainian Village, Polish Village, Portage Park), Glenview, Glencoe and Northfield, Ill.
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