Date
17 January 2017
Queen Elizabeth Hospital reported the case of a woman who delivered a baby but died of a rare complication later. Photo: HKEJ
Queen Elizabeth Hospital reported the case of a woman who delivered a baby but died of a rare complication later. Photo: HKEJ

Queen Elizabeth Hospital faces court ruling over maternal death

A magistrates’ court will decide if Queen Elizabeth Hospital should bear any responsibility for a medical incident in which a woman delivered a baby but died of a rare complication later.

The incident was reported to the court soon after it happened last week as well as to the Hospital Authority, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

According to details disclosed by the hospital on Tuesday, a 26-year-old woman who had been pregnant for 37 weeks came to the hospital for prenatal check-up last Thursday.

The doctor found she had high blood pressure and proteinuria, or abnormal quantities of protein in the urine which may indicate damage to the kidneys.

The doctor suggested immediate labor augmentation, a process by which the medical staff help the mother labor and give birth.

The operation was conducted later that night and the baby was delivered in healthy condition.

However, the mother suffered excessive bleeding of the womb soon afterwards and excision of the organ failed to stop it.

She died of multiple organ failure and hemorrhage on Sunday morning after attempts to save her life failed.

The hospital said the cause of her death, which is subject to the court’s determination, was disseminated intravascular coagulation, a condition in which blood clots form throughout the body’s small blood vessels, disrupting normal clotting and resulting in excessive bleeding, Apple Daily said.

Dr. Kong Wing-shan, an assistant professor at Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Apple Daily that the incident was rare, occurring only once or twice each year in Hong Kong.

While Dr. Kong could not say for sure the cause of death, she affirmed the emergency treatment performed by medical staff at the hospital.

Dr. Cheung Tak-hong, chairman of Hospital Authority’s Coordinating Committee in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said proteinuria and high blood pressure are common symptoms of blood poisoning, and it is understandable that the attending doctor at Queen Elizabeth Hospital performed labor augmentation on the patient, Ming Pao Daily reported.

He doubted whether labor augmentation was the cause of her death but said it is necessary to review medication and other procedures applied during and after the operation.

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TL/AC/CG

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