Woman charges she had C-section without anesthetic Doctor did not respond in time, lawyer says

March 03, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 25-year-old Baltimore woman says she was held down on a table and gave birth by Caesarean section -- with no anesthesia -- at Harbor Hospital Center in 1993 because the| anesthesiologist was asleep in his office and did not respond to his pager.

Tina Kelly says in a complaint filed with state health officials that she was in labor, had an abnormally slow heartbeat and was experiencing pain on her right side when when she arrived at the hospital about 7:15 p.m. Sept. 7, 1993 to give birth to her first child.

Mrs. Kelly, an environmental analyst who lives on the 1500 block of Byrd St., suffered post traumatic stress syndrome, has had nightmares, developed a fear of doctors and put off plans for a large family because of the ordeal, according to her lawyer.

"She has one child and loves this child, but plans for a large family just aren't there anymore," said Michael H. Bereston, her Annapolis lawyer.

Mrs. Kelly declined to be interviewed.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a physician who researches medical issues for the Washington-based Health Research Group, said he has never heard of a modern-day C-section at a hospital without anesthesia.

"It sounds medieval, at best," he said.

Mr. Bereston said Mrs. Kelly and her husband, Edward Kelly, do not fault their obstetrician, Dr. Howard Popkin, who delivered a healthy baby boy in the early hours of Sept. 8.

They blame Dr. Richard Ko, the anesthesiologist, for not showing up when Dr. Popkin paged him and summoned him over a hospital intercom.

"Dr. Ko deserted and abandoned the patient in the delivery area of the hospital," according to the complaint filed with the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office (HCAO). The office must review medical complaints before patients may file suit in a state Circuit Court.

Dr. Ko and Clark Jeunette, a hospital spokesman, declined to comment.

The complaint is scheduled to be heard by an HCAO panel in November, Mr. Bereston said.

Mrs. Kelly was given medication to stimulate labor and two pain relief medications by epidural injection, according to the complaint.

The last pain medication was given about two hours before the delivery, Mr. Bereston said.

Dr. Popkin notified the hospital's anesthesia department at 12:34 a.m. that an emergency Caesarean section would be likely and he ordered the procedure an hour later, summoning Dr. Ko by a pager and the hospital's intercom system, Mr. Bereston said. But Dr. Ko did not show up for the 1:36 a.m. delivery, Mr. Bereston said.

Mr. Bereston said that Dr. Ko, who had only been with the hospital for three weeks at the time, was found asleep in his office.

"His testimony is that he had been studying in his office and had fallen asleep," Mr. Bereston said.

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