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Postpartum Stroke And Medical Malpractice

Juana Montoya was being attended during her pregnancy at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California. When she went into labor, she gave birth to a healthy baby. When she was discharged, she went home to recover. However, one day later, she returned to the medical center where it was determined she had bleeding in the brain.

The mother suffered a stroke and permanent brain damage, alleging the hospital did not provide adequate medical care. The medical center reached a settlement of $3.5 million for the patient’s permanent brain damage. 

Postpartum Stroke

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnancy puts women at a higher risk for stroke and the rate of pregnancy-related strokes in the U.S. is rising. Pregnancy makes the blood more likely to clot. An increased risk of blood clots can result in a clot going to the brain and reducing the delivery of oxygen to the brain, which can lead to a stroke.

It comes as no surprise to mothers that pregnancy and labor are stressful events. It can put the cardiovascular system under a lot of strain, with additional weight and fluid being supported by the body, and changing hormone levels. Women with normal blood pressures before pregnancy can develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke in women who have recently given birth. 

Preeclampsia is another complication during pregnancy involving a rise in blood pressure in a woman who otherwise exhibited normal blood pressure. Symptoms of preeclampsia may also include kidney damage, severe headaches, changes in vision, upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, impaired liver function, edema, and shortness of breath. If untreated, preeclampsia can lead to a stroke. 

Symptoms of a Stroke During or After Pregnancy

The symptoms of a stroke can set in quickly and must be treated within a short window to avoid permanent brain damage. Symptoms include: 

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking 
  • Vision trouble or blurred vision
  • Dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Severe headache

Three Hours of Blood Pressure Warnings After Giving Birth

Felicia West remained in the hospital a week after giving birth in New Orleans. She complained of a severe headache and had high blood pressure spikes. When a doctor was put in charge of her care, she said it would be awhile before the patient could be seen. By morning, the new mother was dead

The nurses tried to get a hold of a doctor to see the patient who was now showing 3 hours of high blood pressure spikes, of 177/67, 171/90, and 174/103. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had noted that pressures above 160 may be the most important predictor of a stroke in new moms, and if not treated, can result in death. 

Philadelphia Postpartum Injury Lawyers

Many pregnancy patients find they are happy with their care in the lead up to giving birth but on the day of the birth, everything seems to fall apart. If you or your child suffered an injury during or after labor and you suspect medical negligence, speak with a medical malpractice attorney for answers. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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