A Lompoc doctor caused miscarriage for a young mother in the Lompoc ER. After the traumatic, profound loss, a lawsuit was filed by the mother. (The following report is from Santa Barbara Superior Court records.)
Summary Of Key Events:
On June 7, 2013, a pregnant woman, age 22, was admitted to the Lompoc ER at 4:40 PM. Earlier that day she experienced cramps and bleeding.
Although a miscarriage can happen at any time, at age 22 this woman was at lower risk for miscarriage. In addition, since her pregnancy had passed 16 weeks the statistical odds of a miscarriage had dropped to about 5%.
At 5:05 PM the mother was evaluated in the ER. The fetal heart rate was measured within a normal range at 140. At 6:20 PM a physician’s assistant, David Barsky, conducted a pelvic exam. He observed a small amount of “red substance liquid” and the patient’s discomfort.
By 7:35 PM an ER physician, Steven Reichel. had conducted a pelvic examination.
Lompoc Doctor Caused Miscarriage
However, without consulting the patient’s obstetrician and without explaining to the patient precisely what he was about to do, the Lompoc doctor caused miscarriage while reportedly using forceps.
According to the lawsuit, Dr. Reichel triggered the miscarriage by rupturing the patient’s sac. Fluids gushed out as the sac broke. Though the Lompoc doctor caused a miscarriage, the fetus did not emerge.
Dr. Reichel Tells Patient To Go Home:
The complaint states the doctor told the woman that her membranes had ruptured and she should go home. The complaint also states that Dr. Reichel told her that when the fetus comes out “she could flush it down the toilet.”
After Fetus Emerges At Home Patient Calls Lompoc ER:
After the mother returned to her home, the fetus emerged but remained attached to the umbilical cord. The patient phoned the Lompoc ER and spoke to the physician’s assistant, Mr. Barsky. He told her to try to pull on the umbilical cord to deliver the placenta. The patient followed the instructions but was unsuccessful Under obvious stress, she wrapped the fetus in a plastic bag, put a towel between her legs and returned to the ER. The mother was admitted to the hospital and a physician delivered the placenta.
According to the complaint, a pathological examination of the fetus revealed that there was no evidence of major abnormality at 18 weeks gestation.
The trial began on November 7, 2016, in Santa Maria before the Hon. James F. Rigali. The jury was assigned the task of determining whether or not Dr. Reichel was negligent in his diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
Experts Claim Dr. Reichel Performed The Wrong Procedure:
Speaking on behalf of the young mother two experts shared their opinions. They stated that Dr. Reichel caused a miscarriage by rupturing the patient’s sac at 18 weeks of gestation. They said the doctor should have conducted a procedure called an “emergent cerclage.” That procedure, they said, would have saved the fetus and led to at least 25 weeks of gestation.
The experts said if Dr. Reichel employed the “emergent cerclage” procedure he would have prevented a spontaneous miscarriage and the fetus would have had a 70% chance of survival at birth. The jury deliberated.
Dr. Reichel Found Negligent:
On November 18, 2016, the jury found Dr. Reichel, Medical Director of the Lompoc Emergency Department, guilty of negligence in his diagnosis or treatment of the patient. The jury concluded that the Lompoc doctor caused miscarriage.
Jury Awards Judgement:
Court records show that the jury awarded the mother $200,000. The judgment was adjusted by the court.
Attorneys for the Parties:
For Plaintiff: Eugene D. Locken, D.O., J.D., Lompoc, CA.
For Defendant Lompoc Valley Medical Center: Richard J. Ryan, Glendale, CA.
For Defendant Steven Reichel: Martin J. Everson, Walnut Creek, CA. Cassidy C. Davenport, San Marino, CA.