The Pritchard Case
When the mother found out that she was pregnant, the doctors also told her that she had a cyst on her ovary. She was also told early in the pregnancy that the doctors were going to monitor the cyst and try to determine if any surgical intervention would be necessary.
She continued to follow-up with her doctors at the hospital over the next several months and several ultrasound tests were done to monitor if the cyst had to be removed. The tests showed that the cyst was stable, not growing larger. However, around the twentieth (20) week of pregnancy, a resident physician decided that the cyst needed to be removed and told her that an operation was required.
The doctor scheduled the operation for the twenty-third (23) week of pregnancy and the patient underwent surgery to remove the ovarian cyst as scheduled; however, during surgery, the cyst broke and, as a result of the surgery, an infection occurred causing premature labor. Her son was born at twenty-four (24) weeks gestation, resulting in devastating neurological and mental injuries.
A lawsuit was filed alleging that the surgery, performed at that stage of pregnancy was unnecessary and could have waited because there was no growth in the cyst and that the risk to the mother and child were too great, as evidenced by the child’s premature birth. The defendants stated that the operation was necessary.
The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County, West Virginia, and a substantial settlement was reached before the case went to trial.