Doctor says Duletsky provided proper care
BRECKENRIDGE – The defense rested its case Friday morning in the $1.5 million medical malpractice suit against former Frisco doctor Patricia Duletsky with the last witness saying the doctor acted properly in the care of the late Susanna Martens and her unborn daughter.Silverthorne resident Rob Small is suing Duletsky for the wrongful deaths of his wife and their baby.Martens was 36-and-a-half weeks pregnant when she died in the early morning hours of March 15, 2000. Her cause of death was a cardiac arrest triggered by the rare uterine bacterial infection Group A streptococcus. The baby died about an hour before Martens.Seven hours before her death, Martens had gone to Duletsky’s office because she had vomited and experienced two uterine contractions. Duletsky also discovered Martens to have a temperature of 101.2 degrees.Duletsky diagnosed Martens with the stomach flu and sent her home. Martens was admitted to Summit Medical Center at about 9:45 p.m. because she still wasn’t feeling well.The defense’s final witness was Dr. James McGregor, an obstetrician-gynecologist who teaches at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.McGregor testified that Duletsky did everything “very well” in her care of Martens and that her care did not contribute to Martens’ death.Based on Martens’ symptoms, an everyday doctor would not have diagnosed Group A strep, McGregor said.He also argued that Martens had a rare variance of the classic Group A strep that is much more lethal to the mother and baby.McGregor said that Martens would have had to undergo antibiotic therapy one or two days before she became symptomatic for the drugs to work best.He disputed earlier testimony by plaintiff’s witnesses who argued that Martens would have survived if she was given one dose of the antibiotic Rocephin anytime before 11 p.m. on the evening of her death.”I think that’s astonishingly bad advice,” he said. “It’s not supported by my experience and it’s not supported by (medical) literature.”McGregor added that patients who survive an infection like Group A strep are often “damaged” by the experience, and commonly struggle with a sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome.In cross examination, McGregor agreed that if he had been treating Martens, one of his diagnoses would have been a uterine infection.He also said that he teaches his students that an infection of the amniotic fluid, or intra-amniotic infection, should be considered in any pregnant woman with a fever.McGregor agreed with attorney Natalie Brown that in his own practice, more than 50 percent of women who are at least 34 weeks pregnant and are believed to have an intra-amniotic infection are treated with antibiotics and their baby is promptly delivered.But, McGregor said, he’s used to practicing in large hospitals that regularly treat complicated situations, unlike Duletsky, who practices in a more rural setting.Regardless, the tragic ending to Martens’ pregnancy would have resulted in any situation, McGregor said.”I don’t think any family practice doctor or obstetrician could have altered this outcome,” he said.After the defense rested its case, Rob Small briefly took the stand again to rebut testimony given by Duletsky earlier in the week.During Duletsky’s testimony, she said Martens first came to her office because she was concerned about becoming pre-eclamptic and wanted her blood pressure checked.Preeclampsia is a condition that causes swelling and high blood pressure and one that Martens experienced during her first pregnancy with her daughter Shannon, now 9.Small testified that Martens was more concerned that she wasn’t feeling well and that if she had wanted her blood pressure taken she would have done it herself at a machine at the City Market pharmacy.”My wife was not a person who would go to the doctor if she was mildly ill, unless it was a regularly scheduled appointment,” Small said. “She was not mildly ill, she was seriously ill.”He also disputed Duletsky’s notes that Martens had vomited only once, saying Martens indicated she had had a ‘vomiting episode’ and couldn’t keep anything down.The trial will continue with closing statements on Monday, followed by jury deliberations.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970)668-3998 ext. 229 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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