Saturday, January 15, 2011

1989: Patient left hemorrhaging to death in care of receptionist

Eurice Agbagaa, a 26-year-old immigrant from Ghana, died in a New York hospital early in the morning of January 15, 1989. She had been in a coma since January 7.

Eurice had gone to Abram Zelikman for a safe, legal abortion that day. Zelikman estimated the pregnancy as 11 to 12 1/2 weeks. He performed the abortion at about 1pm, then sent Eurice to the recovery room.

Over the next 2 1/2 hours, Eurice bled so heavily that the receptionist, Yolanda Penalzer, became alarmed and asked Zelikman to do something. Zelikman told her that the bleeding was normal and that she should put an ice bag on the patient. He then left the facility, leaving Yolanda to care for the patients in recovery.

Yolanda continued to be concerned about Eurice's bleeding, and tried repeatedly to reach Zelikman at his home, but couldn't contact him. Finally she called an ambulance.

The ambulance crew found Yolanda performing CPR on Eurice, who was in shock. They were able to restore her breathing and transport her to a hospital, where an emergency hysterecomy was done. It was determined that Eurice had actually been at least 19 weeks pregnant. Zelikman had perforated her uterus and severed an abdominal artery.

Eurice survived the surgery and was put on life support, but remained in a coma until her death in the early morning of January 15.

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