Jonathan and Brooke Wood filed suit in October 2009 alleging Drs. Jolene Montano and Jennifer Bartley were negligent in their care during Brooke Wood’s pregnancy and delivery of a daughter in April 2008.
The physicians have maintained they followed the proper standard of medical care and cannot be held liable for Wood’s loss of vision.
In her opening statement to the jury Monday, attorney Ziva Bruckner outlined the plaintiffs’ contentions that Wood should have been counseled on the danger of developing preeclampsia from the beginning of her prenatal care with Montano because of her significant weight gain, swelling and elevated blood pressure in the months leading up to April.
Preeclampsia, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, is a medical condition that causes high blood pressure in a woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy for the first time in her life. Left untreated, it can cause serious and possible fatal complications for mother and baby. It requires emergency delivery, but that isn’t an automatic option if it endangers the baby.
During the first weekend of April, the Woods called Montano’s office to report Brooke Wood couldn’t urinate and had a severe headache, according to court records. The person who answered the phone was not a physician, physician’s assistant nor nurse, but she suspected an infection and called in a prescription for an antibiotic. Wood’s condition worsened and she went to the emergency room April 6.
At the ER, Wood was seen by Bartley, the physician on call for Montano. She ordered tests to diagnose a possible preeclampsia condition and medication to bring down Wood’s elevated blood pressure. Wood was 36 weekspregnant, too early to automatically opt for an emergency delivery, Bartley’s attorney told the jury.
By the time Montano performed an emergency cesarean section the next day, Wood was blind, her attorney told the jury.
Wood’s vision did improve to normal in one eye, but she still has vision loss in the other eye that adversely affects common functions such as driving. It has also resulted in lost income because she can work only part time, her attorney said.
In opening statements, the doctors’ lawyers said no expert could definitely say how or when the vision loss occurred.
Wood never exhibited the symptoms that would have alerted the doctors of a potential medical danger, and it wasn’t until the lab results were returned two hours before the emergency C-section that there was proof Wood had preeclampsia, they said.
The trial is expected to continue through the week.