A few years ago, The Unnecessarean reported on a civil case, Skol v. Pierce, wherein the plaintiff alleged that the attending doctor (who was covering for the OB-GYN that had delivered her last four children) terrorized her and refused to give her an epidural or any other pain medications on account of the fact that he was angry at her for not calling his answering service before she came in. There was a spot about it on the local NBC News not long after the case was filed:
It looks like most of the sites that originally reported on the case never posted an update on the verdict, which was issued on March 1, 2012. The judgment was for Ms. Skol in the amount of $1,400,000.00, case “settled after trial for the [defendant]’s $1 million policy limit.” Some details and comments:
- Ms. Skol was admitted to Rush University Medical Center at 5:46 AM on March 1, 2008, in labor with her fifth child. Her regular OB-GYN, Dr. John Weitzner, was out of town. He was being covered for by Dr. Scott Pierce.
- A hospital resident first called Dr. Pierce at 7:40 AM. Dr. Pierce became angry with Ms. Skol for having not called his answering service at 2 AM when she first began having contractions. Ms. Skol maintained that she had never been told to call the answering service in advance. (In any case, someone at the hospital could have called Dr. Pierce at 5:46 AM when Ms. Skol was first admitted, so any anger at Ms. Skol seems misdirected.)
- Dr. Pierce maintained that he was upset because Ms. Skol was GBS-positive and needed two doses of antibiotics four hours apart, and Ms. Skol did indeed deliver before receiving a second dose. However, Dr. Pierce accelerated her labor and delivery by performing an amniotomy and administering Pitocin. (Huh?)
- Ms. Skol requested an epidural as soon as she arrived at the hospital, and a resident had put in the order for the epidural, but Dr. Pierce canceled the order and refused to give her an epidural or any other pain medication. A nurse testified that Dr. Pierce had said to her that Ms. Skol “deserved to feel pain” and that “pain was the best teacher.” (Someone on the YouTube video comments claimed that the epidural was refused because Dr. Pierce is very pro-natural-childbirth. The decision on whether or not to request an epidural should be up to the patient, not up to the doctor, regardless of the doctor’s philosophy of birth.)
- Ms. Skol reported that Dr. Pierce took five cell phone calls while he was attending her, one of which consisted of him loudly discussing the details of an abortion.
- Dr. Pierce stitched Ms. Skol’s periurethral tear without anesthesia and without consent, asking Ms. Skol’s husband to hold her down while he stitched. He refused to allow her to hold her baby after she was born.
Other details are available in the 2012-2013 Illinois Jury Verdicts. Congratulations to Ms. Skol on winning her case. Dr. Pierce has good reviews from other patients at RateMDs, Vitals, and HealthGrades, so let’s hope he has learned from this experience and nothing like this happens with him again.