Surprise Trip Over Stirrup Broke Expecting Mom's Knee, She Says
11-7-2019 23:23:00

MANASSAS, Va. (CN) – Kaiser did not insure its exam room was free of trip hazards, and a pregnant patient fell and broke her knee, an action filed in Prince William County Circuit Court claims.

Zuchelle Blouin sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., doing business as Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C. for medical negligence.

According to the action, Blouin and her husband went to a medical appointment at defendant Kaiser’s Woodbridge Medical Center on Nov. 7, 2017. While she was removing her pants in the exam room, Blouin “suddenly tripped on something unseen behind her leg, and fell backwards against the medical cabinets, hitting her head. She then started to fall forward.” Her husband tried to stop her fall, but she hit her left knee on something hard. Blouin cried out and a nurse came into the room to see what was the matter.

As a nurse and her husband helped her up onto the exam table, her husband saw that the “left gynecological exam stirrup, which appeared to slide into the exam table, was only partially retracted and only a few inches from the ground. That was what had tripped Zuchelle,” the suit states.

As her knee swelled and the pain increased, Blouin was wheeled down to the x-ray department, where she learned that her knee had multiple fractures. The complaint claims that an orthopedic specialist who examined the x-ray recommended that she have surgery to repair the knee within a four-week window “or risk complicating the surgical repair and preventing her knee from healing properly.” 

Blouin was eight months pregnant at the time. Her ob-gyn doctor told her she would have to be induced to have the knee surgery within that time frame. Blouin says she waited as long as possible for the sake of the child to be induced so she could have the surgery. In the meantime, she could not work, she could not sleep in her upstairs bedroom, she could not shower, and she had to be helped to the bathroom, all the while in excruciating pain. 

Blouin was induced on Nov. 24. Due to complications, she had to have a cesarean section to deliver her baby. Due to her knee injury, Blouin says she was not able to change and care for her newborn and had to rely on others for help. 

Blouin finally had the knee surgery on Nov. 28, and pins were placed in her knee, but she was “severely limited” for six weeks as the knee healed, and in constant pain. According to the action, Blouin was frustrated and depressed, could not exercise, and therefore gained weight. She still has pins in her knee, and walks with a limp.

Blouin seeks $750,000 in compensatory damages, in addition to legal fees and costs. She is represented by Bryan D. Parker of Parker Law, P.L.C., in Fairfax, Virginia.