A five-and-a-half-months pregnant woman was rushed to a Staten Island hospital last month when she began going into premature labor. Despite knowing that Victoria Rexach, 30, had previously had two cesarean sections with her other children, and that her high-risk specialist maternity doctor had expressed a desire for her to have a C-section for this pregnancy, the doctors delivered her twins via natural childbirth.
Shortly thereafter, both Rexach and her two twins died. Now, her common-law husband says he will sue Richmond University Medical Center, which he believes killed his wife through gross negligence.
“She told the doctors she needed to have a C-section because she was high-risk and they knew that. She told them she couldn’t push but they made her push and they let her die,” explained Awilda Cordero, a city activist who is working with the family to receive justice. Rexach left behind two children, 4 and 10, who are still reeling from the loss.
“My two little great-grands are now without their mother,” said Detrice Williams, Rexach’s grandmother. The family believes that if the hospital had performed the C-section, Rexach might still be alive. The medical examiner has not yet issued a cause of death.
While the hospital has expressed condolences to the family over the situation, their released statement does not contain an admission of guilt — not surprisingly, since this would immediately open them up to further litigation.
“The hospital and our staff who provided care to the patient worked diligently and heroically to save the life of this young woman, who had a very complex obstetrical history,” read the hospital’s statement, in part.
Unfortunately, the high-stress, long-workday environment that surrounds hospital culture often contributes to mistakes made on the job, even by experienced professionals. A recent study in the Journal of Patient Safety details that, each year, bad hospital care contributes to the preventable death of between 210,000 and 440,000 patients. If these numbers are correct, it makes medical errors third only to heart disease and cancer for the leading cause of death in the U.S.
There are about one million lawyers currently working in the U.S., and a fair number of them are trained in handling medical negligence and related cases.
“Way too many people are being harmed by unintentional medical error,” explained Dr. David Mayer, Vice President of quality and safety at MedStar Health, “and it needs to be corrected.”