Monday, July 25, 2005

Always get it in writing

If ever there was a doubt that I was going to change OB/GYNs after this fiasco, it was completely erased today with the arrival of Alex's final autopsy report. The short version, without the Polish temper including various expletives, is that my OB/GYN LIED TO ME. That's right...liar, liar, pants on fire. Or maybe liar, liar...find me a good lawyer.

Significant findings in this autopsy include: 4+ growth of enteric bacilli on cultures, bacteria present in vessels of multiple organs and in the conducting airspaces of the lung and severe acute chorioamnionitis in the placenta. In summary, the cause of death appears to be bacteremia related to chorioamnionitis. However, examination of the brain revealed significant intracranial hemorrhage. Because of advanced autolysis, the etiology of hemorrhage could not be determined.

Now, for those of you non-medical folks like me...let’s Google bacteremia and chorioamnionitis...

Chorioamnionitis is an infection of the membranes (placental tissues) and amniotic fluid. It occurs in about 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies, but is much more common in preterm births. Chorioamnionitis can cause bacteremia (blood infection) in the mother and may lead to preterm birth and serious infection in the newborn baby. Other terms for chorioamnionitis include intra-amniotic infection and amnionitis.

The organisms usually responsible for chorioamnionitis are those that are normally present in the vagina, including Escherichia coli (E. coli). Group B streptococcus may also cause the infection.

And you want to know the kicker???

Differential diagnoses for chorioamnionitis can be...drum roll please...

Bronchitis, upper respiratory infection, or viral syndrome.

Guess where I was the week before Alex died? both my general practitioner’s office being tested for strep throat and subsequently on the telephone to my OB/GYN begging for some help with my “upper respiratory and sinus infections.” BOTH times I was told to take Tylenol and Sudafed, and drink plenty of fluids. BOTH times I was told I just had an upper respiratory and sinus infection. And NOBODY told me that my illness could possibly be a SYMPTOM of a uterine infection!

So yes, an intracranial hemorrhage most likely ultimately killed my baby. BUT...and this is a BIG BUT...there was an intrauterine infection that was most likely the cause of said hemorrhage. I WAS sick...and most likely Alex WAS sick. And NOBODY diagnosed it despite exhibiting several classic symptoms, including maternal fever, uterine tenderness (we had several conversations about how hard Alex was kicking me and how much it actually hurt), and maternal tachycardia that was brushed off as being a result of my “sinus infection” and taking Sudafed.

I am apparently a classic case with classic signs. I had a previous c-section from which I had difficulty healing (took me a year to heal completely). I had a previous prolonged labor during which I exhibited signs of illness and was told it was “normal in certain stages of labor.” (Nope...that wasn’t true either.) Looks like there is a very real possibility that I've been carrying this infection around with me for over three years.

I’m sorry...this is actually the kicker...

It’s all treatable with antibiotics.

That’s right, had it been properly diagnosed, Alex could still be alive.

Hello?!?!?! Is this thing on?!?!?! What do I have to do to get someone to listen to me?!?!?!? And why in the hell can I Google it NOW...after my baby is DEAD...and find my answers? More importantly...why did my OB/GYN tell me she didn’t have any idea what caused Alex’s intracranial hemorrhage???

It all makes sense now...Her hesitation in agreeing to send me the autopsy report...The lengthy delay in getting said report, which I can only imagine was so she had enough time to consult with her legal counsel.

Now I get to introduce a whole new set of nightmares. My baby suffering from some blood infection for God knows how long. And I thought the anger issues were resolving themselves. Watch out world...I’m on a rampage now!


Dana said...

Omgosh Kate. :( I almost burst into tears when I read this. I can only imagine how you are feeling right now. : ( I am so, so incredibly sorry and SO angry for you. I know there is nothing I can say to make you feel better but know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love you.

Julie said...

OMG Cathy, I am seriously speechless. I am so so so sorry you have to go through this when, if the dr had gotten her head out of her ass, could have possibly stopped it all from happening. You are in my thoughts. (((cathy)))

Julie said...

oh honey i am so sorry you got this news now, too little, too late. what bullshit. i've always thought most docs tend to be way too conservative in treating we 'neurotic moms' and all, this just proves it. they don't take the time to listen and consider possibilities. and to lie to you about it to cover their ass is unforgivable. we're all here for you to unload on, let it out. damn, i am truly sorry.

lauralu said...

well, shit.

Jill said...

Oh.My.God. I am so SO sorry that this is what your reality has become. Sometimes I think these people forget that their jobs are about life and death and that they have a goodly amount of power in those things.

Catherine, my heart is breaking for you and for everything this news must mean to you. I wish I could make it all go away for you. i'm just so sorry:(

deadbabymama said...

This is why I'm glad we don't have to ask our doctor for the report up here, we get it straight from the coroner's office and WE give to the medical praticioners if we choose to. Unless there is a problem and then there is an inquiry, as directed by the coroner. Giving your doctor lead time to consult legal council, and having any control over your son's medical records is just crazy.

That being said my heart breaks for you Catherine. If this is something that could have been identified and treated, as it seems to have been, then not just your OB/GYN screwed up but a whole host of practicioners should have paid more attention and someone, somewhere should have twigged to what was going on. I'm so sorry.

MB said...

Wow. Time to find a good lawyer (I'm sure you know a few) and a new doctor. Holy crap.

:) n said...

oh my dear one,

i am so sorry. yes both chorio and amnionitis are fairly common and yeah we treat with abx.

i'm sure you don't remember, but i had an e.coli infection and my placenta, amniotic fluid and cord were all infected with e.coli. emmy was desperately ill and in the nicu for over 2 weeks.

i had tenderness, slight fever, and fetal tachycardia.

yeah's negligance. i'm sorry. standards of care weren't met.

email me @ if you want to talk about this in further detail and my own experience with the health industry and my mom's death. :(

Holley said...


Oh sweetie, I have cold chills and I'm tearing up.

Everyone one is expressing themselves much better than I can right now.

I am so deeply sorry. I am so angry. I wish I were really nearby so I could give you an actual hug instead of a virtual one.

Come to think of it, Mom and Cris went to the coroner to get the report, not the doctors.

You have a solid reason to be angry.

Find a good attorney.

Love you,

gabesmama said...

Oh My gosh. I've got so many things to think about with what you wrote. See I'm convinved that Gabe did not die from a cord accident. I had pain at 33 weeks that I'm convinced was an infection and they said no and took me off antibiotics, but I always was convinced that it was infection and even in my autopsy they said that there was some bacteria, which was negligible, and that it was the cord compression. I too just requested my records. You've given me so much to think about. I'm going to have to read what you wrote very carefully, but I'm so amazed that this happened as a result that I wanted to type up my quick thoughts. I will type more later but I'm sweating to death but need to take in what you have written.

gabesmama said...

Back on. I know you must feel so much hatred toward them now and I don't blame you. Why can't people say "I'm sorry I made a mistake." Don't they understand that we need that to heal. Don't they understand that it is only the truth that will heal us. Direct all of your anger toward them.