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Wrongful death lawsuit settled

August 24, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - The family of a 19-year-old woman who died after giving birth almost six years ago will receive $1.5 million in the settlement of a civil suit with Chambersburg Hospital and a local physician, according to court papers filed Friday with the Franklin County Prothonotary's Office.

The suit, filed by Larry A. Diehl on behalf of the estate of his late daughter, Melissa Diehl, was scheduled for a jury trial that was to have started last Thursday and run through this week. The settlement, signed by Judge Douglas W. Herman, was dated Friday, Aug. 20.

The suit alleged that Melissa Diehl's death was the result of negligence by Dr. Sohael Raschid and staff at the hospital in administering and monitoring treatment, according to court records.

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Diehl was admitted to Chambersburg Hospital on Nov. 20, 1998, complaining of contractions, according to the lawsuit. At the time, she was approximately 30 weeks pregnant, but weighed just 90 pounds, the lawsuit states.

Diehl was treated for the contractions with intravenous drugs, including magnesium sulphate, ritodrine and terbutaline, court records state.

"If not used carefully and in accordance with the standard of care, administration of these agents can lead to serious maternal consequences, including the development of pulmonary failure and death," according to a medical opinion submitted on behalf of the plaintiffs' in the lawsuit.

By Nov. 23, Diehl was experiencing shortness of breath and other complications and was transferred to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center, where she gave birth to a daughter, Kaitlyn, on Nov. 24, according to court records.

Diehl's condition continued to deteriorate and she died of pulmonary failure in Hershey on Dec. 18, 1998, the lawsuit states.

The court settlement split the amount to be paid equally by Raschid, an obstetrician, and the hospital at $750,000 each. Herman ordered that Diehl's family be paid $300,000 by the Pennsylvania Medical Society Liability Insurance Co. within 20 days and $400,000 by the Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange Group during the same time period.

The balance of $800,000 will be paid to the family by the M-Care Fund, a state-run insurance fund, by Dec. 31, the order stated.

Matthew Casey, of the Philadelphia law firm of Kline & Specter, said he could not comment on the case or the settlement because of confidentiality provisions included in the settlement. Calls to the attorneys for Raschid and Chambersburg Hospital were not returned Monday afternoon.

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