Friday, November 04, 2011

Few details on 1928 death, clear culpability in 1977 death

On November 4, 1928, 22-year-old Anna Borndal died at the office of Dr. Lou E. Davis of Chicago, from complications of an abortion performed there that day. Davis was held by the coroner for unintentional manslaughter. She was indicted by a grand jury for homicide. The sources don't indicate if Anna was a victim of malpractice, or if her death was just an unfortunate complication of surgery. However, Anna's abortion was typical of illegal abortions in that it was performed by a physician. Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

Things are a lot clearer regarding the 1977 abortion death of Louchrisser Jackson, a 23-year-old mother of five. She was 12 weeks pregnant when she went to Dr. Robert L. Gardner for a safe and legal abortion at Reproductive Services in Dallas on November 4, 1977.

Louchrisser began hemorrhaging. Gardner said that he ordered blood for a transfusion, but it didn't arrive so about an hour before her death he attempted to give her a transfusion with his own blood -- which turned out to be an incompatable type. He does not indicate why he didn't transfer her promptly to a hospital, since he did not have blood on hand to treat this foreseeable complication.

Gardner finally did call an ambulance, but for some reason called a private ambulance and did not, at the time of the call, inform them of the nature of the transport. In that jurisdiction, private ambulances are only permitted to transport stable patients; they are prohibited from responding to emergency calls. Because the ambulance service had no reason to expect an emergency, they did not respond promptly, nor did they refer the transport to the fire department's ambulance service.

When the ambulance crew arrived, Louchrisser had already gone into cardiac arrest. The crew, upon discovering that they'd been called for an emergency transport, rushed Louchrisser to the hospital immediately rather than waiting for a fire department ambulance.

Louchrisser died that day. Gardner requested that the body be released without an inquiry. Another physician at the hospital learned of the case and requested an inquiry. The autopsy found massive hemorrhage of at least two liters of blood, and a "1.8 x 2 cm. ragged perforation in the right lateral wall just above the internal os of the cervical canal. This perforation communicates freely with the retroperitoneal space on the right side. The endometrial surface of the uterus is ragged and hemorrhagic." Death was attributed to "massive retroperitoneal hemorrhage due to perforation of the uterus during a therapeutic abortion."

So unlike the situation with Anna, we do know that Louchrisser was the victim of gross malpractice, and Gardner didn't even have the excuse of fear of prosecution to explain why he failed to provide appropriate life-saving emergency care to his injured patient. So much for the theory that legalization got rid of the quacks.

No comments: