Monday, December 06, 2021

December 6: Slipshod Care Costs Teen Her Life

Katrina Poole was conflicted during that winter of 1988. She'd had a positive pregnancy test on October 31, 1988. On November 4, she went to her family doctor, who confirmed a pregnancy of about 14 or 15 weeks, with a fetal heart rate of 140. 

Katrina's friend Lovie Jones said that Katrina told her, "I'm so confused." Katrina didn't want an abortion. She loved her boyfriend and wanted to have a baby with him.

But at 16, she was so young. She was doing well, excelling in her English classes at Raines High School in Tampa Bay, Florida. Some of her friends tried to talk her into following her heart and keeping her baby. Others reinforced her concerns that she was too young.

No details of the discussion with her physician are included in the medical board documents provided by AbortionDocs; it just relays that the doctor referred Katrina to A Woman's Choice, aka A Jacksonville Women's Health Center or Jacksonville Women's Health, because the doctor in question didn't perform second-trimester abortions.

Katrina didn't report to the clinic for a month, which confirms what her friends told reporters about her being conflicted about whether to have her baby or go through with the abortion. On December 5, Katrina's mother picked her up at school and drove her to A Woman's Choice for her 1 pm appointment.

Color photo of a small one-story building with a mansard roof. It has one large curtained-off window on each side and a sign between them reading "Jacksonvill Women's Health Center" along with the symbol for female.
A Woman's Choice, aka A Jacksonville Women's Health Center
The clinic records show no evidence that anybody at the clinic took any steps at all to determine how to provide appropriate care for Katrina. There's no evidence of a medical history -- which would have disclosed that Katrina's pregnancy had been estimated at 14 or 15 weeks a full month earlier. Taking a medical history would also have revealed that Katrina had a history of irregular menstrual periods, which would make it even more important to take all possible steps to determine an accurate gestational age. There was no physical examination of any kind noted. There was no ultrasound performed. Dr. Herman Miller simply charged ahead with a routine suction abortion, only suitable for first trimester pregnancies of 12 or fewer weeks. Katrina's mother was at her side.

Photo of a middle-aged Black man with half-frame eyeglasses, wearing a red suit coat, red tie, and white shirt with red trim on the collar.
Dr. Herman Miller Jr.
During the abortion, Miller noted that he had suctioned out far more placental tissue than expected. The medical board noted that Miller failed to take this second opportunity to perform an ultrasound and get a clear idea of what he was doing. Instead he simply kept going, making no notes at all about how he proceeded or any evaluation of the fetal remains other than to estimate that Katrina had actually been 22 weeks pregnant -- far enough along that the baby could potentially have survived if delivered alive. Miller had made no effort to assess the baby's viability.

After completing the abortion, Miller had Katrina remain in recovery for 30 minutes before prescribing Stadal (a synthetic opioid), Phenagen #3 (a drug to prevent nausea and vomiting), Metherzine (a drug to control obstetric bleeding), and "TCN Sumycus" (which a reader suggests is probably Sumycin tetracycline, an antibiotic).  He then sent her home. 

That evening Katrina took a prescribed medication, kissed her mother goodnight, and went to bed. She died some time between 2:00 and 6:30 the following morning. Katrina's family evidently went to wake her in the morning and found her dead.

Katrina had already been conflicted about the abortion. Would she even have consented had she known that her baby was at the cusp of viability? A simple ultrasound and a moment of honesty would almost certainly have saved Katrina's life, and perhaps spared the life of her possibly viable unborn baby.

The medical board took disciplinary action against Miller, including limiting his scope to perform second trimester abortions, but let him keep his license in spite of his appalling care of Katrina and the staggering lack of judgement he showed in failing to even examine his patient prior to surgery. I'm not sure how they could trust him to limit himself to first-trimester abortions when he didn't even bother to determine gestational age prior to firing up the suction machine.

New source: "Hard Lessons," St. Petersburg Times, February 8, 1989

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