Woman Treated for Sepsis, Loses Unborn Baby, Then Sues Center
SSM Health Care is set to pay $1.36 million to a Jefferson County couple, Michael and Lindsey Setzer, after they filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2012 over the death of their 14-week-old unborn baby in 2012. The trial spanned five days and nine of twelve jurors found SSM negligent in discharging an unwell pregnant woman with kidney stones and a urinary tract infection, which would ultimately lead to the death of her unborn child.
The Setzers sued SSM and the physician who treated Lindsey, Dr. Joseph Herrmann, in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The couple reached a confidential settlement two years ago with Herrmann. They then filed a second lawsuit with similar terms naming only SSM as a defendant.
The Setzers claimed in July 2012, Lindsey, then only 23 years old, went to SSM Health St. Clare Hospital Fenton complaining of pain on her right side and a urinary tract infection (UTI). Setzer had a history of kidney stones, and an ultrasound revealed she had multiple. SSM and the doctor negligently discharged the woman, according to the filing, within 24 hours while she still had a fever, nausea, and a heart rate above 140 beats per minute. They did not give her antibiotics for the UTI.
Setzer was rushed to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur the following day after awakening with a rapid heartbeat and high-grade fever. Doctors treated her for sepsis caused by the urinary tract infection. She spent seven days in intensive care, eventually recovering. But, her unborn baby did not survive.
SSM’s attorneys claimed the couple failed to prove a connection between Dr. Herrmann or the hospital’s treatment and Setzer’s injuries. They also stated Herrmann was a private physician and not employed by SSM.
In 2014, SSM Health Care discontinued its contract with Dr. Armond Levy, a neurosurgeon accused of operating on the wrong side of patient Regina Turner’s brain at the very same St. Clare Health Center in Fenton. However, reports indicated the separation had nothing to do with the surgeon’s mistake and that he was not terminated. “I have chosen not to renew my contract with SSM Health Care-St. Louis. The current contract remains in effect until mid-October. At that time, SSM and I will part ways amicably,” Dr. Levy said in a statement provided by SSM at the time.
Lindsey Setzer went on to have another baby, according to court documents. Her attorney said that as a result of her loss, she pursued a career as an obstetrics nurse and works for Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur. Horan and Gregory Fenlon of the St. Louis Lawyers Group represented the couple.
“Today, she’s much better, but she’s still obviously traumatized massively from all of this,” Horan said. “She has dedicated herself to being an OB nurse to make sure this never happens again.”
SSM Health Care spokesperson Brian Westrich responded, “While our thoughts and prayers are with the family for their loss, we’re disappointed with the jury’s decision. As a result, we’re reviewing the decision with our counsel to determine options and will take additional steps as necessary.”