Patient sues ob/gyns for baby's death

By Steve Gonzalez | Mar 28, 2006

A woman who claims that her obstetrician-gynecologist kept her on blood pressure medication during pregnancy filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice suit against two Maryville physicians in Madison County Circuit Court March 24.

Kathryn Ball claims that her baby died on March 29, 2004, before being born. She was given a due date of April 21, 2004, under the care of James Dalla-Riva, M.D. and Thomas Hulsen, M.D.

Ball, who is represented by David Damick of St. Louis, claims that during her pregnancy the defendants were aware that she was taking a prescription medication called propranolol.

Propranolol is a beta-blocker used to treat high blood pressure, chest pains, irregular heartbeats and migraine headaches.

The drug is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means it is not known whether propranolol will be harmful to an unborn baby and patients are to talk to their doctor if they are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Ball claims the defendants' knew or should have known that the propranolol carries a high risk of causing placental insufficiency, insufficient uterine growth rate or other problems that may threaten the life or cause a baby to die before birth.

She also claims that during her pregnancy the doctors were aware that she was bleeding, suffered from lower abdominal pain and other indicators of possible problems with the pregnancy.

Ball claims that the doctors were allegedly negligent by failing to adequately inform her of the risks and dangers of the chronic use of propranolol to her developing baby, failing to adequately monitor or assess fetal growth and failed to timely intervene when placental insufficiency and insufficient fetal growth or development was present.

She further alleges that the doctors failed to properly view or evaluate the ultra-sound examinations during the pregnancy, or failed to perform ultra-sound examinations in her final two months of pregnancy and that they kept her on the medication despite the risks when there was evidence of insufficient fetal growth.

Ball also claims that she also sustained great loss and damage in the form of medical expenses and surgical care, and great physical and emotional injury.

Ball is seeking damages in excess of $200,000, plus all costs of the suit.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

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