Family Suspects Malpractice After Ectopic Pregnancy Death

The family of a woman who died after hospital staff released her to police custody has hired an Oklahoma medical malpractice attorney to investigate possible medical negligence.

According to news reports, Jamie Lynn Russell, also known as Jamie Lynn Fisher, 33, was taken by ambulance to the Pauls Valley General Hospital Emergency Room on January 2, complaining of abdominal pain.  A nurse examining Russell called a police officer for assistance because the patient was "uncooperative" and refused to lie on her back for a test.  A

Pauls Valley Police Department report says that Russell told the nurse the pain prevented her from lying down and asked for pain medication.  Officers say Russell was "combative, yelling, cussing, and grabbing at hospital members."  Hospital staff decided to release Russell because she was uncooperative.

A police officer who helped Russell to pack her things discovered in the patient's possession prescription pill bottles that did not belong to Russell. The bottles contained mostly Oxycodone and Alprazolam, two of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in Oklahoma.  Though a female relative said the pills belonged to an older relative, the officer said he was too busy to get additional information from the relative, and he arrested Russell for possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

Russell was taken to the Garvin County jail, and was found unresponsive in a holding cell two hours later.  She was returned to Pauls Valley General Hospital, where she died January 3.  Cause of death was ruled an ectopic pregnancy--a condition that is always fatal for the fetus, but is usually treatable to prevent maternal death.  Though ectopic pregnancy is a leading cause of first-trimester maternal death, it is because most women have not yet obtained prenatal care in the earliest stages of an ectopic pregnancy.

According to obstetric specialist Dr. Landon Lorenz of the OU Medical Center, "Any doctor would be suspicious of a woman that comes in of reproductive age with stomach pain or vaginal bleeding.  Testing for pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy should happen if a woman shows those symptoms."

Jamie Russell's family believes that the hospital was negligent in not testing the woman for ectopic pregnancy before releasing her.  They say the facility is attempting to paint Russell as a drug abuser although, they say, her drug screen upon admission was clean and that there is a legitimate explanation for her possession of a family member's prescription drugs.  On behalf of the family, their medical malpractice lawyer asserts that "any 'uncooperative behavior' in the emergency room was a reaction to the narcotic medication given to her in the ER and her underlying undiagnosed medical condition."

Pauls Valley General Hospital officials released a statement saying that the incident is under investigation and that, while they offer their condolences to Russell's family, federal regulations prohibit them from discussing the details of the case.

Emergency room error, failure to order appropriate tests, and failure to diagnose a medical condition that should have been diagnosed based upon the symptoms, evidence, and warranted testing may indicate medical negligence and could be harmful and potentially fatal for a patient.  If you suspect a hospital injury or death was caused by a preventable medical error, contact our offices to speak with an Oklahoma medical malpractice lawyer about your case.