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Pregnant woman’s death leads to malpractice lawsuit

About 30 miles to the west of Burlington County, a family mourns the loss of a wife and daughter. Adding to their grief, they must find a way to care for her severely brain-damaged infant son. Her husband and mother filed a lawsuit against that city claiming medical malpractice and defective equipment caused their losses in 2012. Seeking compensation and accountability from those responsible will help them recover and may provide the financial security needed for the future.

Reportedly, the pregnant, 24-year-old woman fell inside her home. Relatives called 911. Paramedics arrived in about five minutes to find the victim on the floor. She told them she felt weak and couldn't breathe. The two female medics were advised the mother-to-be was on medication for blood clots and had asthma.

Callous and unprofessional are terms used in the complaint to characterize the emergency personnel. Allegedly, they didn't bring oxygen into the house, and security video shows them entering with a collapsible stairchair. It further shows them struggling to get the woman, about 36 weeks pregnant and almost unconscious, onto a gurney. They belted her torso, head and arms. The driver and both medics lifted the gurney to the ambulance.

Records indicate at the hospital that door locks jammed causing up to four extra minutes before they were able to get her out – a fact the suit claims escalated her condition to beyond saving. As she died, the severely brain-damaged baby was delivered by Caesarean section.

The amount of compensation and damages sought is not specified in the complaint. Along with the paramedics, defendants include the city Fire Department and the three companies that designed, built and were responsible for maintaining the emergency vehicles. Plaintiffs' counsel stated a reason for the lawsuit is to help anyone who calls 911 and expects a prompt and confident response.

Reportedly, city investigators labeled the incident a catastrophic failure. Just as doctors and other hospital personnel are accountable from a medical malpractice standpoint, negligence of paramedics that results in a fatal medical error can be addressed by the injured parties through effective legal remedies.

Source: The Inquirer, "Suit accuses Phila. Paramedics of malpractice" Joseph A. Slobodzian and Aubrey Whelan, Jul. 26, 2014

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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