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Medical Malpractice Jury Awards $4.6 Million

A hospital was recently found to have committed medical malpractice when they failed to provide blood to a woman who bled to death after giving birth. Claudia Calcagno, 36, delivered a healthy baby boy on January 18, 2008, but within hours she was dead.

The errors that led to Calcagno's death had already begun by the time the baby was born. Evidence showed that a routine order to type and screen Calcagno's blood, put in before her C-section, wasn't completed until hours later. And following its own policy, the hospital did not stock blood of her type (A negative) which went against accepted standards of medical practice.

Calcagno was 41 weeks pregnant when admitted to Monticello-Big Lake Community Hospital in Minnesota on Jan. 17, 2008, to have labor induced.

After labor lasted into the following day, and after she had pushed for two hours, her obstetrician ordered a caesarean section. At 6:50 p.m., she gave birth to a healthy son, Vico.

By 8:50 p.m., nurses found that Calcagno was bleeding heavily. A doctor who examined Calcagno ordered blood for her. The hospital lab sent O negative blood, traditionally the universal donor type. Calcagno could have received A or O positive blood that the hospital also had in stock, but her doctors said they were never told it was available.

The doctors decided against surgery to remove Calcagno's uterus, because they were concerned that they wouldn't be able to control potential bleeding problems if they went ahead with surgery. The decision was made to airlift her to a Minneapolis hospital.

Calcagno's postpartum hemorrhage caused a loss of at least 4,000 milliliters of blood. Despite a blood transfusion in Minneapolis, her heart stopped beating shortly after she arrived at the second hospital. Doctors there began an emergency hysterectomy, but despite efforts to revive her during surgery, she died.

The Monticello hospital blamed the doctors, but the jury found that the two doctors named in the suit were not negligent.

The $4.6 million jury award includes compensation to Claudia Calcagno's family for past and future economic loss, as well as the loss of her companionship.

Source: Star Tribune "Malpractice lawsuit nets $4.6 million award" 10/22/2010

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