Lawsuit: Frivolous or Justified?

I was horrified to read the allegations in the lawsuit by a woman who claims the obstetrician who attended the birth of her baby abused her. Click here to read the allegations and other information — it first appeared in the Chicago Tribune and, undoubtedly, has been blogged about quite extensively, so this may not be the first time you’ve read about it. I’ve read numerous stories of women who claim abuse or “birth rape” during labor or birth, but this is the first occurrence I’ve seen of a lawsuit about it. (If you haven’t read it yet, go read the blog post and then come back here.)

Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot of people who say, “What’s the big deal? — mom and baby both lived, so why sue?” Is that all the matters? Are women supposed to be treated like that — have medicine witheld from them, told that they are going to hemorrhage so much that they will need a transfusion, and to start pushing prior to full dilation?

I don’t like the litigious society we have, but lawsuits get results. And attention. Had this woman not sued, her story probably wouldn’t have been told. And if it was told, it would probably have made the rounds in “crunchy” blogs, but not gotten into the mainstream. For that reason, I’m glad this woman has filed suit. I wish she could pursue criminal charges, and she may technically be able to, but can you imagine being the police officer who would have to work the case? “Um, let’s see, Mrs. Skol, you allege that when you went to the hospital, Dr. Pierce assaulted you. Did he hit you? [No.] Did he attack you with a medical instrument? [No.] Well, what did he do?… Oh, he performed a vaginal exam on you without your permission? Is that even assault?” Um, yeah, in my book — if anybody else stuck his hand in her vagina against her permission, it would be counted as assault or battery or rape or whatever the “correct” legal term is. But because he’s a doctor, his “white coat” gives him immunity in a lot of people’s minds from such “common” criminal terms as assault and battery.

At one point, the doctor had the woman’s husband hold her down while he stitched her tears (or possibly an episiotomy) closed without anesthetic. The husband didn’t know what else to do, so he complied with the doctor’s orders. Because he had on a white coat, he had to be doing the right thing, right? Probably Mr. Skol wanted it over as soon as possible, and his wife’s struggles to get away from the painful needle was making it take longer, so he probably thought he was doing what was in her best interests. Had the doctor been a stranger on the street hurting his wife like that, the husband probably would have seriously injured him. But because he had on a white coat, he did nothing.

I think the woman deserves compensation for what she experienced; and while money cannot make up for the pain and fear she underwent, it is better than nothing. I’d prefer to see the doctor (assuming these allegations are true) stripped of his medical license and sent to jail, but that’s probably not happening. This lawsuit will give this doctor a lot of negative attention, and will probably make a lot of people think twice before using him for his services. So, he may be out of work anyway (in obstetrics, at least).

Is being alive at the end of the day all that matters? What if this weren’t obstetrics? What if the woman had gone in for, say, a gall-bladder surgery, and the doctor wouldn’t allow her to ask any questions? What if (somehow) the anesthetic wore off before the end of surgery, and the patient complained that she could feel pain, and the doctor refused to inject a local anesthetic while he closed the incision? Would that be allowable, as long as the patient was still alive at the end of the surgery?

20 Responses

  1. Wow. I just read the link. If that’s what happened, I hope that doctor gets the book thrown at him. He should loose his license. Everything he did goes against “first do no harm.”

    This is such a good reminder to be proactive in your own medical care. Know what you want. Know what you do not want. A patient has the right to deny any medical care that they do not want. Part of me (a big, very angry part) wishes that poor mom had given the doctor a good kick in the face when she had the chance. And part of me wonders why a husband who is experiencing a 5th delivery allowed that. My husband would have been storming that hospital!

    I hope a satisfying and fair decision is determined quickly! And I hope this encourages other moms and moms-to-be to be proactive wrt their medical care and look into using a doula or birth coach who can work on their behalf.

  2. So sad and pisses me off at the same time. I hope that mama wins an d wins big. The emotional scars, the fear, the mistrust she now carries as part of her spirit is heartbreaking.
    She was raped! ANd it was sanctioned by the hospital.
    Anyone who takes the time to read the whole thing is a FOOL if they think its no big deal.
    If we saw some else treating another fellow human being with such violence we would not hestitate to call the police.

  3. […] of C-section videosMerry Christmas!About MeChecking dilation without a vaginal examLawsuit: Frivolous or Justified?Why do pregnant women eat ice chips?The “ring of fire”Breech birth […]

  4. I am glad that you are not judges I would be guilty before the trial ends. We simply do not have enough information to make any type of judgement. Everyone would expect sound compassionate professional treatment. The birth of a child by itself is both an event of joy and intense emotion and unfortunately some level of discomfort. The fact that the mother and child have no lasting injury may suggest at worst very rude unprofessional treatment without any malpractice. We do not have all the facts. The press and web have painted the story with less than an ojective or neutral point of view

  5. I had my first baby delivered by Dr. Pierce, 8 yrs ago. My experience was amazing. I had complications during delivery and Dr. Pierce gave me excellent care. I never felt endangered during child birth; I knew that my baby and I were in good care.

    I have moved since the birth of my first child and have had 3 more children. All of my OB doctors did an amazing job during my child birth-so I can compare Dr. Pierce to others as well-my experience was great. Obviously I was not there during her experience, but I know the level of care I received from Dr. Pierce and would recommend him to anyone.

    You must remember that every pregnancy is different and has different complications/issues-it is unfortunate that she had a bad experience but you must look at the out come-she has a beautiful baby girl that is healthy!

  6. Scott Pierce delivered my child and I experienced the same behavior from him. I was not in any type of pain-was a scheduled c-section. I would never recommend anyone to him. It was utterly horrible how I was treated. He was 7-8 hours late for my “scheduled” c-section. He personally told me he was doing some last minute Xmas shopping and would be at the hospital when he’s done and if I left the hospital he would not deliver my child. This is what came out of his mouth. The nurses were upset with him and kept apologizing. Mind you, this was an agreed upon time of delivery for both parties. I didn’t show up at the hospital in labor. I found out later that he was talking about me like a dog behind my back. The person who told me was one of his own collegues. I didn’t file a claim with the regulatory board because of that person.

    While in the operating room, I requested a minute to compose myself before the epidural. Dr. Pierce and the anthesteologist became upset. The anthesteologist told me that “what’s the problem, you decided to have a c-section”. Dr. Pierce added that “we need to get this going”. This c-section was recommened by him. I kept my cool because I was about to have a needle placed in my spine but I was pissed off.

    I can’t speak on the Skol’s case I wasn’t there. I’m only speaking on what I went through.

    Good doctor to some and others not .

  7. I, too, was a patient of Dr. Pierce’s for 19 years (from age 18 til the birth of my second child).

    Before I had any children, during a routine checkup just before my wedding, I complained to him about a growth on my shoulder. He offered to burn it off for me with his new laser in his office. I ended up having a keyloid scar (that he never warned me about and I didn’t even know what that was at the time) that was visible when I wore my wedding dress. I had to go to a plastic surgeon for a steroid injection to see if we could minimize the scar to no avail.

    When I had my first child in 2001, I showed up for my checkup appointment on my due date and was told I was in labor. (I didn’t feel a thing.) He hurried the birth along by breaking my water bag and then disappeared to do a full hysterectomy across town. Consequently, he was not available when it was time for me to deliver 6 hours later. I had to wait with the nurses telling me “don’t push” until another doctor was found to deliver. He showed up in dress clothes and was very annoyed that he had to be there. Because of all this, I had a lot of ripping where it shouldn’t be. I was in pain for about 6 months until everything went back to normal, except for my urethra which I just had surgery on 3 weeks ago! After confronting Dr. Pierce for the 2nd time, I finally got a half-hearted apology. I can only imagine how much bigger his ego has gotten since then. He’s a very smart, talented doctor, but has a God complex which got worse over the years. I had a scheduled c-section with my second child that went off without a hitch. But I left him a few years ago when he told me, after I complained about some issues I thought were related to either hormones or my birth control pills, that he would switch my birth control “one more time, but then you’ll have to go see a shrink.” Now that’s compassion coming from someone who’s slogan is “For the Care of Women!”

    Just because we have healthy children does not mean he should get away with that kind of behavior. He’s lucky he hasn’t been sued already. Or has he?

  8. Anyone defending this sick individual is actually the sick O himself. Criminal charges will soon follow. You can view the video here …..

  9. Mary,

    Thanks for posting the link to this video! I will be posting it to my blog so that all my readers can see it.

  10. […] alleges mistreatment at the hands of Dr. Scott Pierce, of the Chicago area. (I’ve previously blogged about it here, and provided the link to the court document […]

  11. If anybody wants to watch the video here’s the link. Pop some corn and watch the horror story unfold. ..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEPxV44kk8o

  12. Cathy Skol’s not a wimp, but rather a Hero Cop!

    Yes, she’s out on a disability, but because she almost died in a head on car accident during a high speed car chase while going after an armed bank robber. She was protecting the public and put her life on the line!

    Do wimp’s do this?

    A wimp? I don’t think so!

    Does Rush Hospital need to be sued? You bet ya! They did next to nothing to investigate this so called doctor when this young lady reached out to them for help!

    Kinda sad that it takes a hit in the pocket to wake up.

    Wake up Rush! Now it’s gonna cost ya!

    I’d like to be there the next time Scott Pierce gets stopped for a traffic violation!

    After all ….sometimes pain is the best teacher!

  13. I have been a patient of Dr Pierce’s for a long time and he delivered my child via emergency c-section. He has always been great to me and always there to answer any questions I may have. I would recommend him to anyone and this woman wasn’t even a patient of his. If she was, she would have known he is a very dedicated and knowledgable doctor. I would stand behind him any day. As for Rush, I think the hospital is pathetic not to stand behind him for this one allegation. We know nothing about this woman. I do have a question of someone who is on diasbility and is able to have 5 children and how can she raise them properly? I have one and I’m not “disable” and it is rough. I think ALL of the facts need to come out before people start rushing to judge him. There are always 2 sides to a story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Lets find that truth before we start planning to destroy someone’s life!

    • I have not followed the story very much, but I do know that Mrs. Skol is on disability from her job as a police officer. Just because one has been injured in the line of duty does not mean that person is incapable of taking care of her own children. I do not know what the type of disability is — a previous commenter said it was due to a car accident, so there are numerous types of injuries sustained in such a case that would make it difficult or impossible to fulfill the job of police officer, but would still be able to take care of her children. Are you suggesting that all people on disability automatically lose their parental rights? Please do not demean disabled people like that. It is possible that she has something like frequent and sustained migraines, which would render her unable to be a police officer because of the uncertainty of when a debilitating headache may strike, but she could still manage her children and her household — or do you think that all women send their children out to a baby-sitter or day-care every time they get the flu or a migraine or a broken leg? Also, this disability may be temporary or permanent — I don’t know. But being a cop has different qualifications from being a mother; besides, I’ve heard of women who were paralyzed from the waist down who still managed to take care of their children very well.

      While she has given birth 5 times, one of her children was stillborn, so please remember to show some compassion to her for that, if for nothing else.

      I also am looking forward to a full disclosure of the facts, and to hear from both sides of the story.

  14. Skol v. Pierce Update: Doctor Fined and Placed on Probation

    blog of TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2009 AT 11:49PM
    at http://www.unnecesarean.com/blog/

    One more incident that proves that every woman in labor should have a doula…
    http://www.twibes.com/group/doulas

  15. I have been a patient of his for a very long time. He is the best doctor in the world. My family and friends are also patients of his. There are two sides to every story, so you should not believe what he is being accused of just because a woman has filed a lawsuit. There are tons of lawsuits out there, many without merit. He is extremely compassionate and caring. Does not take any issue lightly and provides great care and is always available to his patients (appointments, emails, phone calls, everything). Here is a site that rates doctors and you can see all of the comments from his actual patients:
    Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local-beat/Doctor-Intentionally-Made-Delivery-Painful-Woman-Says.html#ixzz0oV0EBA1l

  16. See this site with comments from his actualy patients: http://www.ratemds.com/doctor-ratings/472498/IL/Melrose-Park/Pierce

    • Carla … Your writing reads more like that of a for-hire “internet scrub crew” than an authentic patient of this bozo. The usual “family and friend” tag, overuse of laudatory adjectives, and double posting (ratemds.com…oh, puhlease!) are, pretty much, giveaways.

  17. Carla, FYI, Pierce has numerous law suits pending! This one with Cathy Skol is not a isolated incident. Even convicted mass murderers have had friends and family members that spoke well of them. Do we let Jeffrey Dalmer out of prison because a neighbor knew him for years and said he was a nice young man ….. Duh!

  18. Just a quick update in case anyone stumbles upon this, as I did.
    The doctor lost and paid the Skol family (well, his insurance did anyway). This scumbag is still out there, with loads of defenders (see the people on this page).

    Here’s what I don’t understand: if this crap happened to my wife while I was in the delivery room, this a-hole would have been knocked unconscious (or worse). I would have happily dealt with the legal trouble. But I’d win my case and spit in this guys eye.

    You may have had a good experience, but does that make it okay for a Doctor to behave this way?

    He was put on probation and forced to take a class on patient management. I’d have made it much easier on him by removing him from the hospital through a nearby window.

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