Katherine Stewart (2003) – USA

Catholic hospital gambles with pregnant woman’s life by waiting till she goes into shock before providing treatment

In Katherine’s own words:

“In December 2003, I was pregnant and elated at the expectation of having a second child. Then one afternoon I began to bleed heavily. Leaving my husband at home to care for our toddler, I was loaded on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, St. Vincent’s Hospital, a Catholic facility in Manhattan’s West Village.

“I was passing in and out of consciousness, but I remember the ambulance paramedic telling me my blood pressure was dangerously low. As I later learned, what I needed was a D & C, a procedure that removes tissue from the uterus. … But when I arrived at the hospital, hours passed and no doctors or nurses would attend to me. Hospital attendants changed one blood-soaked sheet after another, and yet they did nothing to help me. It made no sense.

“When an E.R. doctor walked past, I drew her attention to what I thought was obvious — that I was bleeding out — and pleaded with her to examine me. But she just grimaced and walked away. At some point I started shaking violently; I was going into shock. I later learned that I lost nearly 40 percent of my blood. Only then did the hospital give me the D & C procedure that saved my life.

“When I finally got home, my 2-year-old didn’t recognize me. ‘Who’s that lady?’ she asked. It took weeks to recover my strength, and much longer to stop reliving the experience in my mind. Upon reviewing the medical records from the provider, I could find no reasonable explanation for the roughly four-hour delay in treatment that resulted in the extreme loss of blood. Given what I now know about the Catholic health care systems’ restrictions, my best guess is that the hospital was willing to gamble with my life in the name of its ethical directives.”

SourceWhy Was a Catholic Hospital Willing to Gamble With My Life?, New York Times, Feb 25, 2022, by Katherine Stewart