A Riverside County jury on Friday, May 19, awarded more than $17.4 million to a San Jacinto woman who was left comatose after treatment for a high-risk pregnancy at Riverside Community Hospital, her attorney said.
After deliberating for two days, jurors at the Historic Courthouse in Riverside found the obstetrician, Aruna Gupta, the anesthesiologist and a nurse liable for the condition of Adria Snover, attorneys for Snover and Gupta said. Jurors awarded Snover, now 32, $17,458,474 in damages, including $2.2 million for her past suffering and $5.25 million for her future medical care. The rest of the judgment was for non-economic damages, said her attorney, Bruce Fagel.
Riverside Community Hospital and the anesthesiologist had previously settled out of court for undisclosed sums, Fagel said.
A spokesman for the hospital could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Fagel said Snover entered the hospital on Dec. 4, 2018, suffering from pre-eclampsia, an obstetrical condition that puts the pregnancy at risk. Her blood pressure was elevated, so Gupta, who did not go to the hospital, prescribed medicine to lower her blood pressure, Fagel said. Snover was discharged two days later.
On Dec. 10, Snover re-entered the hospital with elevated blood pressure. Gupta, who was present, ordered a cesarean section. Fagel said Gupta prescribed a medication that caused hypotension during the surgery. When the anesthesiologist removed the breathing tube, Snover’s heart stopped.
The boy was delivered healthy but Snover suffered a brain injury during the 25 minutes it took to get her heart beating again, Fagel said.
“Everything was fine until Dec. 4 when her blood pressure spiked,” Fagel said. “The baby should have been delivered, and had the baby been delivered at the time, mother and baby would have been fine. That was the focus of the case.”
Fagel said he spoke with jurors after they announced their verdict.
“They focused on the failure to deliver on (Dec. 4),” Fagel said.
The baby should have been delivered Dec. 4 because the woman’s high blood pressure had been gradually and safely lowered that day by slowly administering medication, Fagel said. On Dec. 10, when the woman was rushed to the hospital, the full dose of medication was administered quickly, which “dropped the bottom out of her blood pressure,” which led to her heart attack, he said.
Gupta has been an obstetrician for about 40 years, Fagel said. Under California law, doctors such as Gupta are not directly employed by the hospitals where they work, he said.
Snover is breathing on her own and is being cared for at a facility in San Dimas, Fagel said. Snover is married, and the boy is now 4 years old.
“A very tragic ending to what should have been the happiest day of their lives,” Fagel said.
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