Lawsuit turns on cause of woman's death COUNTYWIDE

November 26, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Richard S. Moy told an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury yesterday that the happiest moment of his life was when his son was born early on the morning of May 21, 1986.

But an hour after Richard S. Moy III was born at Anne Arundel Medical Center, Mr. Moy's 22-year-old wife suffered a seizure while in the recovery room. She died six days later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

A jury will have to decide whether the care administered by four Annapolis physicians contributed to Mrs. Moy's death, listed by physicians as being caused by pulmonary embolism.

Mr. Moy's malpractice suit seeks $1.5 million in damages.

The 33-year-old Edgewater resident, who works as an estimator for a sheet metal firm, choked back tears as he described details of the couple's relationship, his son's Caesarean birth and the death of his wife, Susan Moy.

"If I could describe it in a word, Susie gave me peace. You don't find that in every relationship," Mr. Moy said.

He told how he met his wife at the Edgewater Baptist Church, where they both attended, and dated for eight months before they were married.

Among the dozens of exhibits introduced as evidence are a wedding photograph, blown up on a television screen for jurors. The picture is in sharp contrast to the other enlarged photos also admitted as evidence -- one showing Mrs. Moy pregnant in a hospital bed and a later shot of her in the hospital's intensive-care unit.

The suit names as defendants both the hospital and four of the physicians who treated Mrs. Moy, Doctors Lawrence Prichep and Kenneth Keys, her obstetricians; S. David Krimins, a pulmonary specialist called in after the seizure; and Nicholas A. Capozzoli, a neurologist.

The suit alleges that the physicians incorrectly diagnosed her problem as being a pulmonary embolism and that Mrs. Moy was actually suffering from eclampsia -- a hypertensive disorder associated with pregnancy.

The doctors erred when they stopped treating her for that ailment the day after the seizure, the suit alleges.

In the first week of testimony, the plaintiffs brought out three physicians, who said the seizure, coupled with Mrs. Moy's high blood pressure, high-protein levels in her urine and swelling and excessive weight gain all pointed to eclampsia.

The 86-pound patient gained 38 pounds during her pregnancy. Physicians for both sides dispute whether that is excessive.

Experts for Mr. Moy say because eclampsia was ruled out, his wife was over-hydrated with fluids while she was in the intensive-care unit, and that over-hydration contributed to her death.

"I believe this patient would have survived if the fluids had been properly regulated," Dr. Joel Palmer, a Prince George's County doctor told jurors.

But the defendant physicians -- supported by their own experts -- have presented evidence showing they specifically looked for eclampsia before and after the seizure and ruled it out because the symptoms weren't there.

Dr. David Nagey, director of maternal medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a professor of obstetrics, told jurors that some swelling is normal in any pregnancy and that 38 pounds is not excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

He also said that the results of a lung scan performed by Dr. Krimins showed that Mrs. Moy suffered a pulmonary embolism, which is the leading cause of death of women after they deliver babies.

"All of the care given was well within the standard of care," Dr. Nagey said.

He said that based on the patient's history, gleaned from a review of the hospital and doctors' records, the evidence shows a blood clot formed somewhere in Mrs. Moy's body and that the clot choked off the flow of blood to her lungs.

The month-long trial, before Judge Eugene M. Lerner, is expected to be completed early in December.

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