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Massachusetts Man Awarded $2 Million for Wrongful Death of Wife Due to Medication Error During Cesarean Delivery

In Salem Superior Court, a jury awarded the family of Priscilla Jardine $2 million for her wrongful death. Jardine died on February 26, 2004 soon after giving birth to a baby girl during an emergency cesarean section. The jury issued its Massachusetts wrongful death verdict after finding that Jardine’s obstetrician, Dr. Debra Gail Knee, acted negligently when she recommended that the 32-year-old then pregnant mother take the drug labetalol.

As a result of taking the drug, Jardine’s blood pressure fell to dangerous levels and decreased her unborn baby’s fetal heart rate so that it became undetectable. Soon after delivering her daughter, Jardine went to cardiac arrest and died. Knee’s lawyer says that his client did not issue the directive for Jardine to take the medication and that another doctor who made the call has acknowledged that it was exclusively on his order.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit, hospital staffers told Jardine’s family that labetalol was “safe.” Information from the drug’s manufacturer, however, warns that patients suffering from congestive heart failure should not take the medication. A nurse at Caritas Family Hospital followed orders and administered labetalol to Jardine even though the pregnant woman was exhibiting symptoms that her heart was failing.

Medication Errors
It is responsibility of each physician to make sure that they are prescribing the proper drug to a patient and that the drug does not cause any adverse or dangerous side effects. Recommending the wrong drug to a patient can be very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries, health complications, and even death. It can also be grounds for Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit.

Labetalol
Labetalol is used on patients with high blood pressure. The drug relaxes the arterial muscles and helps lower one’s blood pressure. According to Medicine.net, it is unclear whether the drug is safe for use during pregnancy.

Jury awards $2M in wrongful death suit to family of Methuen woman, Eagle Tribune, January 23, 2009
Jury Awards Family $2M After Childbirth Death, The Boston Channel, January 23, 2009
Related Web Resources:

Labetalol, Medicine.net
Medication Errors Injure 1.5 Million People and Cost Billions of Dollars Annually, The National Academies