By Alexa Lightle, WRDW/WAGT
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) - A couple is suing a hospital in north Georgia and seeking $2 million in damages after a woman says her miscarried fetus was flushed down a hospital toilet.
The woman in this case and her husband are also suing the doctor and nurses she said she saw in May 2018 while she was having excruciating abdominal pain. The woman knew she was 16 weeks pregnant when she went to the hospital that day.
The lawsuit said she was seen by nurses and staff after 45 minutes of waiting. However, she was sent back to the waiting area and began experiencing contractions roughly 5 minutes apart along with nausea and vomiting.
It was then, the suit said, she was finally seen by a doctor, who performed an ultrasound on the woman and confirmed a heart rate of 150 beats per minute for the 16-week-old fetus.
The woman claimed in the lawsuit that the doctor was “disrespectful and insolent” to her during the ordeal and treated her as if she was “faking her ailments” before attempting to discharge her from the emergency room.
The woman, the suit said, continued to tell the doctor that she was in pain and needed treatment. However, according to the suit, the doctor instructed her to leave the ER.
The suit said the woman then attempted to go to the restroom inside the ER, but she vomited and her water broke. Instead of care, the suit said, the woman was given a “hospital gown and wet wipes” and was not checked after her water broke. The woman then went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet where she ultimately passed the child, the suit said.
The suit continued and explained the woman rushed out of the bathroom screaming, "I've lost my baby!"
A nurse and the doctor, according to the suit, then instructed the woman to clean herself up and return to an exam room.
The fetus, while still in the toilet, was then flushed down the toilet by the doctor and the nurse, the suit said.
"[The doctor] left the restroom and told [the woman] she had a miscarriage, with the outrageous and cavalier admission that 'everything went down the drain,'" the suit said.
The woman also claims the doctors and nurses falsified records to indicate what she passed in the toilet was tissue and blood clots - not a fetus.
The suit is seeking punitive damages and damages as a result of mental and physical pain due to the incident.
"Defendants’ conduct as alleged herein shows willfulness, malice, wantonness, oppression, and that entire want of care which raises the presumption of a conscious indifference to the circumstances," the suit said.
The couple's attorney, Harry Revell, said they are suing for medical malpractice, improper disposal of the fetus, and doing so without consent.
"The law makes it very clear that you cannot dispose of a body without the proper methods and manner being taken, the foremost of that the consent and notice of the parent which clearly wasn't done here," Revell said.
The hospital did provide a statement about the lawsuit.
“We have not seen the lawsuit, but we have spent a great deal of time investigating the patient’s course of care, and we feel confident that no one intentionally flushed a fetus down the toilet,” the statement said.