Hannah Buddemayer brought a case of medical malpractice against Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) after receiving medical care there while being unaware she was pregnant. Buddemayer went to the facility to undergo a laparoscopic and bilateral tubal ligation. Prior to the procedure, a urine test revealed that she was at least four weeks pregnant. For an unknown reason, the CRMC lab erroneously reported that the test was negative. Once the procedure began, the doctor recognized that her uterine pressures were high.
The doctor described that she had an “intrauterine pregnancy” despite that the results of her pregnancy test were negative. A subsequent urine test confirmed she was pregnant and an ultrasound showed she was approximately 18 weeks along. Several days later, Buddemeyer visited the hospital and reported vaginal bleeding. The doctor determined she had a ruptured membrane that was leaking fluid. She delivered a baby boy prematurely after 26 weeks that had incurred a brain injury.
Injuries and Disability
The baby was hospitalized on several occasions in the month following his birth. It was determined the brain injuries were significant and caused delays in development and cognitive limitations. The case also involved a challenge to the constitution regarding how claims for damages are handled. Attorneys for the plaintiff insist that she should have a constitutional right to have a jury determine the number of damages. The state law now limits (caps) the number (amount) of non-economic damages that can be recovered.
Preterm Rupture of Membrane (PROM)
In this case, Buddemeyer had a membrane rupture that caused some leakage of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is what protects the baby as it develops in a membrane—the amniotic sac. In an ordinary pregnancy, a woman's “water breaks” and signals she is progressing into labor. In this instance, a premature rupture occurred—a potentially serious concern also known as PROM.
An ectopic pregnancy is when the pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus. When this occurs there is an expectation that a rupture will occur involving the organ that the fetus is attached to. Often this attachment is located on the fallopian tube. In this situation, the result may include internal bleeding that must be immediately treated. A doctor generally can detect an ectopic pregnancy through a blood test.
What is a Laparoscopic Bilateral Tubal Ligation
In this case, Buddemeyer was originally having a surgical procedure known as a laparoscopic bilateral tubal ligation. This procedure is conducted as a means of sterilization for women who do not wish to become pregnant in the future. It prevents sperm from contact with the egg, which in turn prevents pregnancy.
The process is considered to be “minimally invasive” as it involves a few minor incisions. It is possible to have the procedure reversed, yet with only moderate success.