Now 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?