Woman Wins $1.36 Million from SSM Health Care in Malpractice Lawsuit

SSM Health Care must pay $1.36 million to a Jefferson couple as ordered by a jury due to a medical malpractice suit resulting from the loss of their 14 week-old fetus in 2012.

Details of the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

According to reports, the pregnant woman suffered from kidney stones and a urinary tract infection, which, due to negligence by SSM Health Care, ultimately led to the death of her fetus. Nine out of twelve juror reached this verdict after a five day trial.

The couple, Lindsay and Michael Sezter, have filed two lawsuits involving the death of their unborn baby. The couple sued SSM and the doctor who treated Lindsay, Dr. Joseph Herrmann. After reaching a confidential settlement with the doctor, the couple filed a lawsuit against only SSM.

SSM spokesman Brian Westrich said in a statement: “While our thoughts and prayers are with the family for their loss, we’re disappointed with the jury’s decision. As a result, we’re reviewing the decision with our counsel to determine options and will take additional steps as necessary.”

The lawsuit outlines the events which led to the Setzlers losing their unborn baby. In July 2012, Lindsay Setzler was experiencing pain in her right side and urinary tract infection, so she went to the SSM St. Clare Hospital-Fenton. Several kidney stones were revealed on an ultrasound. She also had a history of kidney stones. The doctor discharged Lindsay Setzler within 24 hours with a heart rate above 140 beats per minute, fever, nausea, and without prescribing antibiotics.

She awoke the next day with severe fever, and rapid heartbeat. She checked into the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur where she was treated for sepsis resulting from the urinary tract infection. She spent seven days in intensive care, says one of Lindsay’s nurses, David Horan. Ultimately, the Setzler’s unborn baby did not survive.

According to SSM’s lawyers, the plaintiffs failed to show a link between the death of the Setzler’s fetus and actions taken by the hospital. In addition, SSM says that Dr. Herrmann was a private physician, not an SSM employee.

Lindsay Setzler had another child, and went on to become an obstetrics nurse in order to prevent future cases similar to her own.

What is a Breach of the Medical Standard of Care?

Although each of the four elements can be difficult to prove, proving that the healthcare provider breached the standard of care for the given procedure or treatment is perhaps the most contentious. Not only does the plaintiff’s legal team have to determine what exactly the standard of care is for the unique case but also show how the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard. Both of these tasks can be incredibly difficult and will require extensive testimony from one or more experts in the appropriate medical field.

It is possible that a doctor can adhere closely to the medical standard of care and still perform an error. If the given error is within the scope of the risks associated with the treatment or if the error did not causally contribute to the patient’s injury, the case for medical malpractice is weakened.

What are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

When people think of medical malpractice, usually the first thing they envision is a form of error that occurred before, during, or after a medical procedure. However, there are several different situations that could lead to a valid medical malpractice claim:

  • Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
  • Prescription errors
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Injuries during childbirth (to the mother or child)
  • Surgical errors
  • Lack of informed consent

In each of these cases, the plaintiff must prove that the healthcare provider failed to adhere to the standard of care that any other reasonably careful healthcare provider in the same position would have.

In cases of a lack of informed consent, a doctor may perform a procedure skillfully but a complication associated with the procedure occurs. If the doctor failed to warn the patient about the potential for this complication to arise, the doctor failed to meet the standards of care of that any reasonably prudent doctor in the same situation would. A patient with proper warning of the complication may have chosen to forego the procedure.

Have you been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Dealing with a significant injury or a loss of a loved one after a medical procedure can be difficult and emotionally draining. Our attorneys have experience handling a variety of complex malpractice cases and can help you determine if you have a legitimate claim to make against a healthcare provider or facility. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Austin serving clients across Texas and nationwide.

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