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Man faints, dies after seeing his wife get an epidural

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Updated: 9:52 a.m. ET July 8, 2005

LOS ANGELES - A California woman is suing a hospital for wrongful death because her husband fainted and suffered a fatal injury after helping delivery room staff give her a pain-killing injection.



Jeanette Passalaqua, 32, filed the suit against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group Inc. in San Bernardino County state court last week.



In June 2004, Passalaquas husband, Steven Passalaqua, was asked by Kaiser staff to hold and steady his wife while an employee inserted an epidural needle into her back, court papers said.



The sight of the needle caused Steven Passalaqua, 33, to faint and he fell backward, striking his head on an aluminum cap molding at the base of the wall.



Jeanette Passalaqua delivered the couples second child, a boy, later that day. Steven Passalaqua, however, suffered a brain hemorrhage as a result of his fall and died two days later, the lawsuit said.



The suit seeks unspecified damages related to Steven Passalaquas death and to Jeanette Passalaquas emotional distress at being widowed with two young children.



Because Passalaqua was solicited by Kaiser to assist in the epidural, the lawsuit said, the hospital owed him a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries resulting from his participation.



A spokesman for Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente called the death a tragic accident.



Some of the allegations in the lawsuit are simply that --allegations. The legal process is under way and we should respect that, said Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson.

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Am I mean for thinking this is a ridiculous lawsuit? Yeah, I feel bad for the lady, but it's not the hospital's fault that he fainted and died. When they asked him to do that, he could've a) said no or b) not watched.
post #2 of 26
It seems very odd. Why did he faint? Did he have a medical condition? If he had a needle phobia why did he assist?
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post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
It's not uncommon for men to faint when their wife is in labor, recieveing IVs or epidurals, or giving birth. They made my husband well aware of his chances of fainting, and periodically asked him if he was feeling OK. He was fine through the whole thing. I'm sure I would feel differently if I was in this ladie's situtation...but standing on the outside, I just see it as a frivilous lawsuit.
post #4 of 26
Really? I thought the men fainting at blood and needles was a TV sitcom myth. You learn something everyday I guess.
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post #5 of 26
Men do faint a lot. My mom is a maternity nurse and prides herself that she "hasn't lost a father yet." She makes sure that they eat and that they SIT so they wont pass out. I feel bad for this lady. I don't know that I consider this lawsuit frivolous.
post #6 of 26
I certainly would faint if I had to be in a delivery room through that ordeal...but if my wife sued the hospital for it, I'd crawl my way out of the grave and slap some sense into her.
post #7 of 26
You can't sue a hospital for something that is out of their control. Well, obviously you can, but it strikes me more as a tragic accident than negligence.
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post #8 of 26
I've had two epidurals in the past year and no one had to hold me steady. I had to be still (unaided) in the foetal position.

It's a sad story though.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spud View Post

I've had two epidurals in the past year and no one had to hold me steady. I had to be still (unaided) in the foetal position.

It's a sad story though.



I had to have a spinal for an emergency c-section. I had to sit at the edge of the bed with my legs hanging over. Then a nurse stood in front of me sort of hugging me while I slumped my back into the needle. My friend had her epidural that way too. I opted not to be the one to hold her out of fear of fainting...a nurse held her. I suppose it just depends on the hospital or the anesthesiologist.
post #10 of 26
I had a spinal and an epidural and mine were both done the same way Frenchie.I don't understand why the husband would be asked to do that part.
post #11 of 26
wow this is sad news .... I hate hearing about sad news due to such freak almost silly accidents.

--------------------





People (men , women ) can faint due to emotional stress (and other factors)



" emotional events and things that produce a certain emotional response can stimulate something called the vagus nerve. This can cause your veins to dilate (get bigger) also called vasodilatation. Hence the term vaso-vagal. The result is that your blood pressure drops, and your melon doesn't get enough blood. So your brain responds like all brains respond when they need more juice, you pass out … causing you to do exactly what your brain wants you to do, lay down. Now that it doesn't need to work against gravity your blood pressure goes back up and you come to."



There are other explantions I found but that one might have been the one in this example.
post #12 of 26
I've moved this thread to the Veggie Patch -- In the News is for vegetarian and animal issues in the news.
post #13 of 26
OMG, how awful. Can you imagine having to explain this to the kid when he/she gets older?



I had no idea this (the fainting part) was so common.
post #14 of 26
That's an odd situation, and I'm not sure what to think of it...
post #15 of 26
Kinda like suing someone because you shut your finger in their front door.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dk_art View Post

wow this is sad news .... I hate hearing about sad news due to such freak almost silly accidents.

--------------------





People (men , women ) can faint due to emotional stress (and other factors)



" emotional events and things that produce a certain emotional response can stimulate something called the vagus nerve. This can cause your veins to dilate (get bigger) also called vasodilatation. Hence the term vaso-vagal. The result is that your blood pressure drops, and your melon doesn't get enough blood. So your brain responds like all brains respond when they need more juice, you pass out causing you to do exactly what your brain wants you to do, lay down. Now that it doesn't need to work against gravity your blood pressure goes back up and you come to."



There are other explantions I found but that one might have been the one in this example.



I have Vasovagal Syncope. I faint on a regular basis. My triggers appear to be blood, stress, and injury. The thing is, you know kinda know you're going to faint, so I just always try to lie down just before I do. I've fainted in the middle of a road before, though. This is really sad. I think the woman may just be trying to cope with the death of her husband buy reacting this way.



http://www.ncemi.org/cse/cse0101.htm

"The patient experiences a brief loss of consciousness, preceded by a sense of anticipation. First, there is a period of sympathetic tone, with increased pulse and blood pressure, in anticipation of some stressful incident, such as bad news, an upsetting sight, or a painful procedure. Immediately following the stressful occurrence, there is a precipitous drop in sympathetic tone, pulse and blood pressure,causing the victim to fall down or lose consciousness. Transient bradycardia and few clonic limb jerks may accompany vasovagal syncope, but there are usually no sustained palpitations, arrhythmias or seizures, incontinence, tongue biting, or injuries beyond a contusion or laceration from the fall. Ordinarily, the victim spontaneously revives after spending a few minutes supine, and suffers no sequelae, and can recall the events leading up to the faint."
post #17 of 26
I don't know. I don't think they had any right to ask the husband to hold his wife while doing the epidural. And those epi needles are *not* normal sized needles. Also as folks said, men faint all the time in delivery rooms. The hospital really wasn't thinking when they did this by asking him to help with that and it happening in a place where there wasn't a safe place to fall. They should have workers doing that work.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by rincaro View Post

I don't know. I don't think they had any right to ask the husband to hold his wife while doing the epidural. And those epi needles are *not* normal sized needles. Also as folks said, men faint all the time in delivery rooms. The hospital really wasn't thinking when they did this by asking him to help with that and it happening in a place where there wasn't a safe place to fall. They should have workers doing that work.



What a tragic story. I'm with rincaro on this one. Epidural needles and the catheder (sp) are nightmarish...seriously.
post #19 of 26
It's sad that it happened.. but to sue for that is wrong.
post #20 of 26
I agree with rincaro - the hospital requested his help, even though men fainting during their wives' labors is pretty common. Since they asked for his help, I don't see anything wrong with his wife suing. The hospital should not request help from people who will most likely have deep, emotional reactions (including the physical reaction of fainting) in the situation.
post #21 of 26
my bf has fainted for no apparant reason several times. if and when we have kids i pretty much expect him to faint at least once during birth



i think they asked him to help because some doctors like to involve the father as much as possible in the birth of their child, cutting the cord etc. but when it comes to jamming gigantic needles into the wife maybe the hubby should stick to handholding. some people are really sensitive to stuff like that. personally i have blood drawn on a regular basis and i still can't watch the needle go in. i can watch it when it's in and watch it come out and i don't find it painful but seeing it being inserted just makes me queezy. i think that's pretty common.



so yeah i think the doctors were at fault here. at the very least they should have put a chair behind him so he could sit down if he felt lightheaded or have a place to land if he blacked out, or had a nurse standing by to support him/catch him
I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
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I'm singin' here to get rid of fear
Hope it disappears right here with the rain
But I know life is pain, not like a fairytale
Meaningless to pray, so just goin' on my way
~Miyavi "Torture"
Reply
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyFaile View Post

i think they asked him to help because some doctors like to involve the father as much as possible in the birth of their child, cutting the cord etc. but when it comes to jamming gigantic needles into the wife maybe the hubby should stick to handholding.

I hate to start a potential flame-war here, but if this is really the case, then why do they have the dads (or others) present in the first place? Aren't they just kind of getting in the way?
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LudwigB View Post

I hate to start a potential flame-war here, but if this is really the case, then why do they have the dads (or others) present in the first place? Aren't they just kind of getting in the way?



I think there's a fine line between the amazing moment when you first see your newborn child and all the sometimes icky stuff that happens just prior. I think most men would be happy to stare adoringly into their wives contorted faces until the doctor says look at the ooey gooey baby. And I think that's really the safest way for things to proceed.
post #24 of 26
My friend's doctors wouldn't even let her husband BE there when she was getting her epidural, because of problems with men fainting. So obviously medical staff are (or should be) aware of this risk.



I try not to judge whether a lawsuit is frivolous anymore because someone I know is involved in a lawsuit that some people deem frivolous but is actually really important and good.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by marleah View Post

I agree with rincaro - the hospital requested his help, even though men fainting during their wives' labors is pretty common. Since they asked for his help, I don't see anything wrong with his wife suing. The hospital should not request help from people who will most likely have deep, emotional reactions (including the physical reaction of fainting) in the situation.

I agree, too. At first thought the suing seems silly, it was just an accident, right? But they asked him to engage in something that would put him at higher risk, and obviously no one around to catch him (or they would have been helping) and of course the person doing the epidural couldn't help. For example, at my mothers old work (a cat hospital) they won't clients hold their own cats because they are taking on the role of "employee" and if they are bit, the hospital is liable. Same sort of thing.



Since part of it was just freak accident that he fell in such a way that he died, the wife should only be compensated in the percentage that the death was the hospital's fault. They are lucky the fall didn't also cause the mother injury while getting the epidural. Either way, hospitals should not be asking people to help with medical procedures!!



Ludwig- If we are in that situation, I guess I'll just have to get ready to see your zombie coming after me.
post #26 of 26
wouldn't you have to hit your head pretty damn hard to have have a hemmorage (sp?)
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