Well, She Told Us She Was Pregnant: Doctors Perform C-Section On Woman And Find No Baby

article-2525278-1A2A43B700000578-349_634x350Now this would make for an interesting torts case in the United States. In Cabo Frio, Brazil, doctors performed a cesarean section on a 37-year-old woman only to discover that she wasn’t pregnant. The hospital later said that they were relying on the woman who said that she thought that she was pregnant and that they panicked when they could not hear the baby’s heartbeat.

Simone Carvalho, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, explained that “she had the symptoms associated with pregnancy like an enlarged abdomen and nausea” and “was so convinced she was pregnant, that she altered her prenatal tests that showed otherwise because she was convinced the results were wrong.”

However, that still leaves the fact that doctors essentially eye-balled a patient and took her word for the pregnancy. What if she was delusional or mentally unstable? Doctors should be familiar with pseudocyesis or a false or hysterical pregnancy cases where women convince themselves that they are pregnant.

It presents a fascinating question. The doctors felt that they could not wait when they did not hear the heartbeat of the baby and acted quickly in case the baby was in peril. However, they could not know how long the baby’s heartbeat had been stopped. Moreover, without a sonogram or ultra-sound, they could not see the position of the baby. A similar case occurred in North Carolina in 2010 and doctors were given the lowest level of punishment of essentially a letter of reprimand.

This case follows another bizarre incident at a Brazilian hospital where a woman said that her baby was taken after a c-section while doctors claimed that they found no baby. She said that she had a prior sonogram showing the baby.

I could see a negligence or malpractice case even with the assurance of the woman that she is pregnant based on the need for doctors to independently confirm a pregnancy before surgery. This is particularly the case when women have a mistaken but good faith belief that they are pregnant. What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Well, She Told Us She Was Pregnant: Doctors Perform C-Section On Woman And Find No Baby

  1. How? Why? Or maybe I need to attend medical school, allied health profession, or start reading more about medical issues (send more medical issues Prof. JT and staff…lol)?

    I have never heard of the false pregnancy syndrone to the point that women are convincing themselves that they are pregnant when they really aren’t?

  2. What do they really do to the human body when they perform a “c section”?
    Do they go in from the you know where and then remove a section of the bla bla? So, they went in and found nothing.

    A little Randy Newman is in order:
    [music]
    Went in dumb, come out dumb too. Hustlin round Brazil in their alligator shoes. They are keeping the children down.
    We’re Doctors, Doctors!
    We don’t know our arse from a c section.
    We’re Doctors, Doctors!
    We’re keeping the fetus down.

    –Randy Newman, from Good Ol Boys, album with some alterations in section C.

  3. Yikes, seems like they should’ve been able to tell there was no baby in there by simple palpation. As pointed out, they also had no knowledge of how long there had been no heartbeat, could’ve been days. Sonogram should’ve been done first undoubtedly.

  4. All depends upon what the standard of care is. I’d think health care providers should be able to rely upon a patient’s medical records received from the patient. The post says she not only told them she was pregnant, but she also altered her prenatal tests.

  5. One thing to bear in mind is that Brazil has recently become infamous for C sections when a regular birth was all that was needed. Apparently it has become a middle class status symbol to have a child this way & may explain the rush to do it, but it also shows incompetence in this case. If a hospital is advanced enough to have C sections, they would have all the other stuff to locate the baby. Also, I’m betting any midwife with a little experience would be able to tell without any fancy equipment. Reminds me of when my van was vibrating shortly after getting the plugs changed, & I took it back to the mechanic. I said it MIGHT be a worn clutch as it felt similar to the last time this happened. That was enough for them to change the clutch & return it after payment. As I drove away it vibrated just as much so I took it back & they discovered they had left the spark plugs loose & untightened from the previous job! I never let them do anything but towing & tire work after that, but I’d be a lot more upset about an an unnecessary operation!

  6. As an ER nurse of 12 yrs, and an avid watcher of the tv show, “HOUSE,” I have come to understand House’s first rule: “patients lie.”
    I’ve even done a urine pregnancy test on a 34 yr old nun who came to the ER complaining of abdominal pain!
    Still, it’s a simple 5 minute test to confirm possibility of a pregnancy with a urine test, even if it was a emergent event.

  7. mark schlatter, Did the nun claim immaculate conception? My son-in-law is an RN. I assume you too are since you called yourself a nurse. Do you work in a big city ER? I learned @ an early age the ER you want to go to is where they take cops when they’ve been shot.

  8. Munchausen syndrome is a type of factitious disorder, or mental illness, in which a person repeatedly acts as if he or she has a physical or mental disorder when, in truth, he or she has caused the symptoms. False pregnancy, clinically termed pseudocyesis, is the belief that you are expecting a baby when you are not really carrying a child. People with pseudocyesis have many, if not all, symptoms of pregnancy — with the exception of an actual fetus. This unusual condition accounts for one to six out of every 22,000 live births.

  9. Perhaps the doctors are legislators posing as doctors. You know, the ones who prescribe ultra scans and who deny abortions regardless of the medical conditions.

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