CHARLESTON – A couple is suing Charleston Area Medical Center after they claim the hospital was negligent during the placement of an epidural.
Dr. William Bragg and General Anesthesia Services Inc. were also named as defendants in the suit.
On Jan. 22, 2015, Marissa Shaffer was having an epidural placed during labor, just prior to the delivery of her first child, T.S., according to a complaint filed March 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Marissa Shaffer and Timothy Shaffer claim the epidural placement was attempted by a student, most likely a student nurse anesthetist in the CAMC CRNA school until the dura was plainly punctured, at which point Bragg took over the procedure.
As a result of the wet tap, Marissa Shaffer suffered severe post-dural puncture headache during the first weeks following the birth of her first child and the severe headaches caused her to have to spend most of those weeks lying down, according to the suit.
The Shaffers claims Marissa Shaffer was unable to bond with her child and was unable to breastfeed during those weeks, which, consequently, caused her to lose the ability to breastfeed permanently.
Following the traumatic ordeal, Marissa Shaffer attempted to bring CAMC’s attention to her concerns about the student’s participation in her anesthesia care and the resulting wet tap, according to the suit. CAMC denied that anyone other than Bragg had participated in her epidural placement and, disturbingly, neither the identity of the student or the wet tap were recorded in her medical records.
The Shaffers claim as a result of the wet tap, the excruciating pain associated with the birth of Marissa Shaffer’s first child, her inability to participate meaningfully in child care during those weeks, her inability to breastfeed and the transformation from a lifelong dream of motherhood into a nightmare of pain, she suffered and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and parent-child relational problem.
As a result of the psychiatric illnesses suffered by Marissa Shaffer as a result of the wet tap, Timothy Shaffer has suffered a loss in companionship and other forms of consortium, according to the suit. Timothy Shaffer has had to take on much of Marissa Shaffer’s share of the responsibility and work associated with caring for a newborn infant and toddler.
The Shaffers claim while they signed a general consent form provided by CAMC acknowledging that CAMC Women’s and Children’s Hospital was a teaching hospital and that trainees might be involved in her care, at no point was she informed that a trainee would participate in the epidural placement and specific consent for the trainee’s participation was not obtained by any of the defendants.
The increase in the risk of complication such as a wet tap associated with epidural placement by a trainee was not explained to Marissa Shaffer, either, according to the suit.
The Shaffers claim the defendants were negligent and that the student willfully concealed his placement of the epidural from the medical records to cover up an act of negligence in failing to obtain informed consent for his participation.
The Shaffers are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Stuart Calwell, Alex McLaughlin and David H. Carriger of the Calwell Practice.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 17-C-343