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Doctors Induced and Performed Cesarean on Non-Pregnant Woman

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The Fay Observer reported today that two Fayetteville, North Carolina doctors induced labor and performed a cesarean section on a woman who was not pregnant.

According to the article, a woman “exhibiting signs of pregnancy” walked into Cape Fear Valley Medical Center asking for a cesarean section.

A resident diagnosed her as pregnant. After a “failed attempt at inducing labor,” a doctor tried to section her.

One of the two doctors that was issued a public letter of concern by the North Carolina Medical Board commented on the resident in her charge.

Geszler said it is not uncommon to see women with false pregnancies but she was surprised the resident was not able to make a correct determination after examining the patient.

“It wasn’t something I thought I’d have to check behind somebody on,” Geszler said. “The bottom line is the woman convinced everybody she was pregnant.”

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Reader Comments (72)

Talk about an unnecessary Cesarean.... Puts a whole new meaning behind the phrase. Wow. This is crazy.

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristine Brite

"The bottom line is the woman convinced everybody she was pregnant."

Oh, so now it's the woman's fault that no one did an ultrasound or even hook her up to a fetal monitor?

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDevo K

"The bottom line is the woman convinced everybody she was pregnant"

If I walk into a hospital and convince everyone that I have a brain tumor, will they just start operating on me right then.

No, the bottom line is NOT THAT IT IS THE PATIENT'S FAULT FOR BEING CONVINCING. You would *think* that if someone with no prenatal care walked in asking for a c-section that they might verify that she was at term before cranking up the Pitocin.

What a f*** up.

March 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterJill

So...they didn't notice something was amiss when they tried to break her water?...Isn't that something they generally try BEFORE they cut someone open? Or at least maybe asked about her prenatal care? It's not like she was in labor and there wasn't time. Aren't these the kinds of questions they ask when you check in? Man, I was even asked if I heated my house! (Then again, it was -30F outside)

I suppose I can understand taking a woman at her word when she says she's pregnant, but it seems like there would have at least been SOME kind of warning flag before it came to surgery.

March 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Yeah really Jill, what if she *had* been pregnant but had only been, say, 24 weeks? The incompetence leaves me speechless.

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Tort reform will *totally* solve everything!!!


March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNora

It takes a lot of small errors to add up to a big one like this.

Mistaking the pelvic exam
failing to recognize a delusional patient
failing the recognize that there was no fetus on the fetal monitoring
failing to do an ultrasound
among other things

this is classic anchoring, where the original diagnosis of pregnancy was never questioned despite lots of evidence to the contrary. It is a not-uncommon source of medical errors.

Delusional patients with psuedociesus can be quite convincing. This is not the first patient to have tricked doctors into thinking she was term pregnant. Typically it would be discovered before it got this far though.

Anticesarean activists want to make this all about the docs, but it is also about a mentally ill woman that put on a great show for everyone. She had all the opportunity in the world to reveal that she was not pregnant, but she didn't. She probably signed informed consent for the cesarean - maybe even requested it. Typically when women with delusional pregnancies are told they are not pregnant they will not believe it, and may even try to fabricate evidence that they are. Doctors don't have "faking/crazy" high on the radar when working on labor and delivery, so it's not uncommon for the ruse to go undiscovered for a period of time.

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas gogelson

I'm sure they did hook her up to a fetal monitor, but as there was no baby it would have picked up mom instead of baby. If mom
was suficiently tachycardic it doesn't look so different from baby.

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas gogelson

That all was from Nicholas Fogelson
couldn't get the comment thing to work right

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas gogelson

"I'm sure they did hook her up to a fetal monitor, but as there was no baby it would have picked up mom instead of baby. If mom
was suficiently tachycardic it doesn't look so different from baby."

That makes me question the accuracy of EFM even more.

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
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