Friday, September 12, 2008

2002: Misdiagnosis and carelessness lead to woman's death

Brenda Vise, a 38-year-old pharmaceutical representative, died on September 12, 2002, of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy after what she believed would be a perfectly safe, legal abortion at Volunteer Women's Clinic in Tennessee. Her survivors filed suit against the facility, as well as Dr. Edgar "Ed" Perry (sometimes mistakenly identified as "Edward Perry") and Dr. Richard Manning.

The lawsuit filed by Brenda's survivors notes that "Volunteer Medical Clinic, Inc. ("VMC") was administratively dissolved by the Tennessee Secretary of State because of its failure to comply with applicable law. VMC has been administratively dissolved by the Tennessee Secretary of State since September 17, 1999."Despite having been shut down by the state, VMC continued to do business and to advertise in the yellow pages for abortions, including medical abortions.

Brenda had taken a home pregnancy test on September 5, and it was positive. The suit implies that she found VMC in the yellow pages, and made an appointment for Friday, September 7. VMC staff did a pregnancy test and did an ultrasound.

"Ms. Vise was advised that the ultrasound showed no fetus in the uterus. Clinic personnel explained that this was because the fetus was 'too small to be seen.' It was estimated that Ms. Vise was approximately six weeks pregnant. By such point in her pregnancy, a fetus in the uterus would have been easily seen with a proper ultrasound examination."

The lack of a visible fetus in the uterus should have clued the facility in to the fact that Brenda had an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency and is a contraindication to the administration of Mifeprex.

VMC gave Brenda a dose of Mifeprex. "Ms. Vise was advised by the Clinic that side effects of Mifeprex were mild and short-lived."

Brenda was then sent home from the facility with a dose of Cytotec that she was to self-administer to complete her abortion. She did not have a follow-up appointment scheduled for the recommended 2-3 days after the administration of Mifeprex.

The suit also mentions that "The Federal Government has never approved Cytotec for use in pregnant women and specifically has not approved it in pregnant women for the purpose of inducing an abortion, and in fact has warned against such use". It also noted, "In August, 2000, the manufacturer of Cytotec specifically issued a letter to healthcare providers that Cytotec was contraindicated in women who are pregnant and that Cytotec was not approved for the induction of labor or abortion, and in fact should not be used in an abortion. Ms. Vise was never advised of these facts."

"Ms. Vise was never advised of who [her qualified physicians] were and, in fact, Ms. Vise was specifically advised that she would have to return to Knoxville rather than consulting a local physician or hospital in the event of any complication."

Brenda called VMC to report problems upon returning home. In all of Brenda's repeated calls to VMC, she was assured that her symptoms were "normal and routine."

Brenda took the Cytotec as instructed roughly 48 hours after her initial dose of Mifeprex. She continued to experience pain and nausea, and called VMC. She was told to take some medications for her symptoms. VMC was told that Brenda had a sub-normal body temperature, that she was pale, and that she had significant pelvic pain. "Instead of advising Ms. Vise to immediately proceed to a doctor, the Clinic continually assured her that all of these were normal symptoms and that she was not to be concerned."

Brenda called VMC again on Monday, September 10, indicating her deteriorating condition. She was told that her symptoms were "to be expected," and was told to travel to VMC, in Knoxville, for a check-up at 3:30 p.m. "She was specifically directed not to go to a hospital in Chattanooga because, according to the Clinic, no hospital in Chattanooga would have knowledge about the drugs that had been administered."

Brenda's boyfriend tried to take her to Knoxville, "but was unable to do so" and called an ambulance, which rushed Brenda to a Chattanooga hospital.

"Ms. Vise was immediately admitted to the hospital in very critical condition. Exploratory surgery revealed that Ms. Vise had had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy which had ruptured. Such rupture led to massive infection and a collapse of her vital systems."

"On September 12, 2001, the attending physician certified that Ms. Vise was terminal with no reasonable medical prospect of recovery and was in a coma and totally unresponsive. Ms. Vise died later that day."

Are women who choose abortion more or less likely to die from an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy than women who choose to continue the pregnancy?
More likely.
Less likely.
Equally likely.

For more RU-486 deaths, see "Wanda", Holly Patterson, Chanelle Bryant, "Cherish", "Tara", Oriane Shevin, and Vivian Tran.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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Mamamull said...
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Mamamull said...

I too had an abortion - then had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

It is a miracle that God wanted me to survive - because that is why I did.

I got three units of blood transfused to raise my blood counts to a still low level. Then I was released from the hospital 24 hours later - drive through delivery, even for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, I guess.

I didn't realize until Rachel's Vineyard how my abortion contributed to my tubal pregnancy.

Keep up the good work! More women and men need to know.

Christina Dunigan said...

Take care, Mamamull.