Thirty-two-year-old Kelly Morse of Vermont traveled with her husband to Hillcrest Women's Medical Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for an abortion on June 19, 1996. Dr. Delhi Elmore Thweatt, Jr., performed the abortion.
Five days earlier, Kelly had come to Hillcrest and had been evaluated by Dr. Earl McLeod, who had diagnosed her as eight weeks pregnant.
Because the waiting room of the clinic was so crowded, Kelly's husband waited for her outside.
Even though Kelly had notified Hillcrest staff that she had asthma and was allergic to the "caine" medications, including Lidocaine, Thweatt administered 12 cc's of 1 percent Lidocaine to Kelly at about 11 a.m.
Kelly immediately had trouble breathing. A licensed practical nurse got Kelly's inhaler from her purse and helped her to use it, but Kelly reported that it was not helping. She became very agitated because of her difficulty in drawing breath.
Thweatt continued with the abortion, completing it in about four minutes, and spent some time providing ineffectual care to Kelly before having an ambulance summoned.
The suit filed by Kelly's husband noted, "As Mrs. Morse's dyspnea (difficulty breathing) and cyanosis [turning blue due to lack of oxygen] continued to worsen, Defendant Thweatt improperly administered Epinephrine subcutaneously instead of intravenously...." This measure would do nothing to assist a patient in Kelly's condition.
"No one started an IV. No respiration rate was recorded, no pulse was checked and no blood pressure was measured. No EKG was applied. No cardiac monitoring was conducted. No pulse oximeter was applied. No intubation or emergency tracheotomy was performed. No oxygen was administered. Kelly continued to agitate in fear, desperately gasping for air, and remained blue in color. Defendant Thweatt just stood there with a stethoscope in hand and listened to Kelly's breathing and wheezing progressively worsen."
"As Plaintiff choked and gasped for air, none of the Defendants, took steps to immediately dispatch an ambulance. In fact, the ambulance was not summoned until 11:24 a.m., or 10 minutes after Plaintiff violently choked, gasped, wheezed, and discolored to a blue-black appearance from respiratory arrest and hypoxia."
Paramedics arrived within five minutes of the call, just as a staff member was running outside to summon Kelly's husband.
Kelly's husband reported that he went in with the ambulance crew to find his wife, naked and blue-black from lack of oxygen, lying on a table that was halfway out of the examination room into the hallway.
The paramedics put a breathing tube into Kelly, properly administered medications, and performed CPR as they transported Kelly to nearby Polyclinic Medical Center, where she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Her condition continued to deteriorate, and she was pronounced dead on June 22.
Court documents in the case indicate that Hillcrest advertised Thweatt as being a Board-certified ob/gyn, yet "Defendant Thweatt failed the Ob/Gyn Board certification examination not once, not twice, but on three consecutive attempts...Defendant Thweatt failed his Board certification exam even after a fourth attempt, following his deposition of July 27, 1997."
On April 20, 1999, Thweatt and Hillcrest settled out of court with Kelly's husband. Her two children, a boy and a girl, were left motherless.
The Pennsylvania Medical Board and Maryland Medical Board show no disciplinary actions against Thweatt, who lives in Maryland.
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