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In Memory of Baby Christmas
Nov 21, 2002

On Sunday 2 June 2002 my husband and I experienced the loss of our beloved unborn child. To some our child was just a non-viable fetus coming to it’s logical conclusion. For us it was a heartbreaking event. This personal tragedy was compounded by distressingly negligent clinical care.

The experience started with our arrival at Inova Alexandria Hospital Emergency Department. Although I presented with complaints of threatened abortion, I had to wait an hour and a half to be seen by the clinical staff. We fully understand that the Emergency Triage prioritization can lead to necessary delays. However, we will never know if the precious time lost in the waiting room let the opportunity to save our baby slip away. Despite the delay in being seen, the care provided by the clinical staff on that initial visit was medically appropriate and emotionally supportive. The visit ended with us being informed that our baby was already deceased, advised to schedule a D and C with Dr. Barry Rothman in the morning, and sent home.

Within one hour of the 11pm discharge from the ED we were forced to return due to my severe hemorrhaging. Although the staff in the ED was alerted via phone of our impending return, my spouse experienced a lack of urgency by the triage staff in attending to my arrival. When a wheel chair was finally provided to transport me I advised the triage nurse during transfer to the chair that I was losing large quantities of blood and massive clots. The triage nurse asked how many pads I was going through in one hour. I advised her that I was going through an overnight pad every 30 seconds. In fact, I had been forced to give up on pads and was using a bath towel. Even with the towel during the 10-minute drive to the hospital blood was running down my legs. Once admitted to the clinical area I was placed in ED room 17 while my spouse was moving our vehicle and going through the registration process. Room 17 is a storage room! Despite being repeatedly advised that I was bleeding profusely the triage nurse simply handed me a gown and told me to take off all of my clothing. I was left alone to change and get into the bed with no assistance and no medical assessment of my condition. Shortly after I was in bed a staff member entered the room and placed a saline lock, drew blood and left without a word. No one even bothered to check my vital signs.

During the next 45 minutes until Dr. Barry Rothman arrived, no one attended to my clinical needs. Despite knowledge of my hemorrhaging, no vital signs were taken and no assessments on the status of my blood loss were preformed. However several staff members came in to the room to obtain supplies without so much as a glance in my direction. At some point I overheard someone outside the door being advised “the D and C is in there.” A staff member came in and placed an ID band on my wrist and left. This made it clear that the staff was fully aware of my presence and medical situation but continued to ignore the need for any medical monitoring much less provide even a scrape of emotional support. During this time I completely aborted my pregnancy and was forced to lie in the waste of my own miscarriage without an ounce of clinical or emotional compassion.

Following Dr. Rothman’s examination he ordered a member of the ED staff to start IV fluids, remove my soiled towel and underwear, and transport me to the operating room immediately. I was handed over to the operating room staff extremely pale and shivering uncontrollably. Once in the competent hands of the OR staff my entire medical and emotional needs were immediately met. I have nothing but high praises for the entire OR team.

As you can most likely tell from the formal nature of the above account it is an excerpt from a formal letter of complaint. As a result of our complaint a formal investigation was launched. Staff and procedural changes have been implemented and on going monitoring of the ER continues. Many people advised my spouse and me to sue. We did not want money stained with the blood of our lost angel. Our goal was to try and ensure that no other parents experience such medical and emotional neglect. Hopefully we have helped in some way.

Our baby was due Dec 19, 2002. We were sure she would keep us waiting until December 25 (everyone in my family is habitually late). She was and will forever be our Baby Christmas. We will hold her someday in heaven…for now she is in God’s loving embrace.

Thank you all for being a part of our healing.


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