Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Air Force hospital error removed "cells" and fetus

Pregnancy lost due to Air Force base hospital error, lawsuit alleges
By Elizabeth Simpson
The Virginian-Pilot
Published: February 17, 2013

Heather Fergurson can't help but replay the mental tape of April 18, 2011, over and over in her head.

The Chesapeake woman had walked into Langley Air Force Base Hospital that day for a prenatal visit. Her husband and son were with her, excited by the idea of a new baby by Christmas.

But within hours, Fergurson was told she might instead have a mass of cancerous cells growing in her uterus. She was sent for a procedure called a suction dilation and curettage - typically done after a miscarriage to remove fetal tissue from the womb, or when there's an unwanted mass that needs to be excised.

Fergurson soldiered through the emotionally wrenching experience, believing the surgeon was removing cells that had gone haywire.

Little did she know the worst was to come two days later. That's when officials from the Langley hospital sat at a conference table and informed her that the tissue a surgeon removed had actually been a healthy fetus, about 11 weeks along.

Fergurson, 32, has been unable to conceive again. She often revisits the moments she spent on the operating table that day. And earlier this month, she filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against the federal government alleging malpractice.

She and her husband, Charles Fergurson, want answers.

"I've been deployed four times in combat zones," said Charles, a 56-year-old sergeant major in the Army. "We die in combat, we know that can happen. We accept that."

But he can't accept that his pregnant wife went into a military hospital for a prenatal exam and had a procedure that destroyed a healthy fetus.
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