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Second lawsuit says doctor might have been overworked

| Sunday, May 6, 2012, 6:55 p.m.

A Ruffsdale couple say their baby was stillborn because of a doctor's bad judgment, but a second lawsuit filed on their behalf suggests the doctor might have been overworked.

"It's really a sad case," said Pittsburgh attorney Harry S. Cohen, who filed the civil complaint against Westmoreland Regional Hospital in Westmoreland County Court.

Jody Ann Thompson was determined during an autopsy to have died within the 48 hours before her mother went into labor on Dec. 30, 2003, according to the lawsuit. There were no signs of medical defects or infections, according to the lawsuit.

Parents Rose and James Thompson filed suit against Dr. Robert K. Greene, of Connellsville, earlier this year, alleging that the obstetrician contributed to the stillbirth.

At the time, Greene was employed by Westmoreland Regional Hospital in Greensburg, according to the lawsuit.

In the latest lawsuit, filed earlier this week, the Thompsons are asking that a jury decide whether the hospital should pay funeral expenses and other damages for the death of their infant daughter.

Cohen said that during a deposition Greene gave in the case, it appeared the doctor may have been juggling the Thompsons' case along with a burdensome patient load.

Greene testified on June 9 that it is typical for him to deliver more than 400 babies and perform between 450 and 500 surgeries each year while seeing 85 patients daily, according to Cohen.

Rose Thompson consulted Greene several weeks before her due date because she was feeling fewer fetal movements. The lawsuit contends Greene told Thompson to go to the hospital for testing. She did so on Dec. 23, 2003.

The test results required follow-up testing, but Greene gave instructions to let Thompson go home instead, according to the suit.

"Patient discharge instructions given to Mrs. Thompson on Dec. 23, 2003, stated that she was to call her physician if decreased fetal movement occurred, which is precisely the reason she came to Westmoreland Regional Hospital in the first place," the suit states.

Several days later, Thompson went to the emergency room at Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant with complaints of abdominal cramping. A doctor there called Greene and later discharged her, according to the suit.

On Dec. 30, 2003, Thompson was at Greene's office for a follow-up visit when she went into labor, according to the suit. The baby was born with no signs of life.

Dorothy Hufford, a spokeswoman for Excela Health, the hospital system that has since taken over Westmoreland Hospital, declined comment on the lawsuit, citing a policy not to speak to the press about litigation.

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