Wrongful death lawyers report that Planned Parenthood of Illinois is now facing a second lawsuit concerning the death of a woman who underwent an abortion at the clinic. The woman’s family filed the claims against Planned Parenthood and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Tonya Reaves, a 24-year-old Chicago native, recently passed away at Northwestern Memorial Hospital from complications arising from the procedure. The autopsy confirmed that Reaves died of severe hemorrhaging following the procedure at the Loop Health Center Planned Parenthood, at 18 S. Michigan Ave. A lawsuit was previously filed by Reaves’ mother in August 2012, although it is unclear what became of the case.
Reaves entered the clinic at 11 a.m. to receive a second-trimester abortion. Following the procedure Reaves began bleeding uncontrollably, although she was not brought to Northwestern Memorial until five and a half hours later, at 4:30 p.m. Once Reaves arrived at Northwestern, the trauma team discovered extreme internal bleeding from a severed left uterine artery. There was an estimated 1.5 liters of blood and clots inside her abdominal cavity, which is about 30% of the body’s total blood volume. The team attempted to correct the incomplete abortion and, in a final attempt to save her life, performed an emergency hysterectomy.
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The medical examiner discovered left over remnants from the failed abortion still attached to her womb, even after the second procedure was performed at Northwestern. Reaves also suffered a large perforation on her uterus, and extensive perforation on her uterine ligament, which undoubtedly contributed to the severe hemorrhaging and blood loss. The autopsy indicates that Reaves would have survived if she had received immediate emergency care.
Reaves died more than twelve hours after the initial procedure was performed. The troubling question surrounding this case is why Planned Parenthood waited so long to contact emergency services for Reaves. Reaves was 16 weeks pregnant at the time of her abortion, well into the second trimester. The longer a woman waits to receive an abortion, the more dangerous the procedure will be. Unlike first-trimester terminations, the type of procedure Reaves received requires surgical instruments to remove the fetus, and hemorrhaging is not uncommon with later pregnancy, even in those who carry their child to full-term. One doctor states that 1 in 100 women will experience postpartum hemorrhaging following childbirth. It may occur from a number of factors, such as blood vessel spasms, tissue left behind in the uterus after termination (such was evident in Reaves), and preexisting problems with clotting.
Medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits must prove that a patient’s death was the direct result of below-standard care. ABC News reports that Reaves’ uncontrolled bleeding may indicate that something extremely abnormal occurred, and that she may have had a preexisting medical condition. If this possible preexisting condition was revealed to doctors before the procedure was performed, Planned Parenthood may be liable for her death.
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Just one week after Reaves’ lawsuit was filed, the same Planned Parenthood facility agreed to pay Illinois over $300,000 in Medicaid over-billing charges. Caroline Hoke, the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, was accused over overcharging Medicaid for largely undocumented services from 2009-2011. Hoke is also believed to have performed Reaves’ abortion. The doctor was Illinois’ fourth highest billing Medicaid physician, charging over $3.9 million for her services in the 3 year period.
Wrongful death attorneys affirm that no procedure is 100% safe. Always inform your physicians of any and all preexisting conditions before undergoing any type of treatment. Tonya Reaves’ death was a medical mistake, and was, unfortunately, entirely preventable. If you or someone you love was the victim of medical malpractice, seek the guidance of an experienced attorney to evaluate your case free of charge.