Janet Spiess

On September 16, 1985, Janet Spiess died at Copley Memorial Hospital in Aurora, Illinois. A healthy 26-year-old during her entire pregnancy, she began leaking amniotic fluid a week before her due date. Her husband took her to the hospital, as he thought she was going into labor.

Her doctor examined her at the hospital and told her that she might need a cesarean, as he thought her baby was quite large. When he looked in on her two hours later, he decided to stimulate her labor with breast stimulation by breast pump. He told her husband that he couldn't be in the hospital, so he didn?t want to stimulate her labor with a Pitocin intravenous drip. She was left in the care of nurses from approximately 11:00 a.m. until 8:15 that night.

The baby remained high despite the stimulation from the breast pump, which was clamped to her breast and changed from one side to the other every 15 minutes. By 1:00 p.m., she was telling the nurses that her contractions were too hard. (She had given birth two times previously). By midafternoon, she was in intense pain, a different kind of pain than she had previously experienced. By 4:00, she was pleading for a cesarean section.

A little after 6:00, a pelvic x-ray was taken. After a nurse looked at the x-ray and said that the baby looked "big", Tony Spiess, Janet's husband, told the nurse to call a doctor. He was told that none were available.

At 8:15, one of the obstetrician's partners examined Janet, as the obstetrician was babysitting his own children while his wife was out. He later testified that it was not his day to be on call. The partner found the baby's position to be very high. When Janet asked for a cesarean section, he decided instead to puncture the amniotic sac so the remaining fluid could drain off. Tony remembers a great gush of water coming out. The doctor then attached an internal monitor to the baby's scalp, and he and the nurse left the room.

A few minutes later, Janet told Tony that she couldn't breathe. After much difficulty in getting the staff to believe that his wife was in trouble, resuscitation efforts were made. At 9:20, she was given CPR, intubated and put on a ventilator. Janet Spiess was pronounced died of amniotic fluid embolism at 10:00, with her normal, eight-pound daughter still in her womb.