UPDATE: Mom delivers premature baby in bathroom after hospital discharge
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A North Georgia woman delivered her premature baby in her bathroom just hours after leaving the hospital.
Now Valerie Simpson says she has filed a formal complaint against Erlanger Medical Center.
While miscarriage is a very private matter, Valerie hopes her story helps someone else. That is why she shared her story with Channel 3.
It was just before 5:00 the morning of January 17th, when Simpson, 23 weeks pregnant, delivered her premature baby alone in her bathroom.
The baby, she named Sophia, only survived two hours.
"She's crying, she's crying," Valerie told a 911 dispatcher moments after her daughter was born.
"Just take your hand and wipe her mouth out and try to wipe her nose out," the dispatcher can be heard instructing Valerie.
"Her nose is too tiny," replies Valerie.
Valerie allowed Channel 3 to play portion of that emotional call, because she says it never should have happened this way.
"I've been having cramps, I just went to the ER, I was at Erlanger," you can hear Valerie tell the dispatcher.
Medical records show Valerie had severe abdominal pain around 1:00 the afternoon before.
After an exam, ultra sound, and two doses of morphine, a doctor with practicing privileges at Erlanger diagnosed her with a bacterial infection.
"I said these are getting more intense, they're getting more intense," Valerie told Channel 3 in an interview, "and the nurse looked at me and said you're just perceiving them that way."
"We signed the papers, we listened to them when they told us everything was going to be okay and she was alright," added Jason Stansberry, Valerie's boyfriend and Sophia's father.
Valerie's water broke 12 hours after leaving Erlanger.
"I felt this pressure again and I push, and there she was," said Valerie, reliving the moment she first saw Sophia.
A Catoosa County 911 dispatcher stayed on the phone with Valerie until paramedics arrived to take her and Sophia back to Erlanger.
"All I could think about was please, please let her hang on enough for (Jason) to get here," said Valerie, "please let her hold on until he gets here."
At 7:19 that morning, Sophia, who measured 12 inches long and weighed just over a pound, died in her father's arms.
Valerie says it wasn't long until the doctor who treated her the day before was at her bedside.
"He goes, you know, I heard you were here, and I am so sorry that I sent you home," Valerie said.
Erlanger did not confirm or deny that conversation took place.
At 23 weeks, the survival rate can be as low as 10 percent.
"We would have been able to see her for a longer period of time," said Jason, "and I think she would have had a better chance."
After Valerie released her medical records to Channel 3, we sat down with an Erlanger representative to talk about her treatment. He says no mistakes were made.
"Based on my initial review, I do believe this young woman received appropriate medical care," said Dr. Cyrus Huffman, Chief Medical Officer for Erlanger.
Erlanger is interested in hearing about Valerie's experience. So far, she has not filed a formal complaint.
"We are concerned about that," said Dr. Huffman, "we welcome opportunities to speak to a patient, their family members, so we can better understand what happened, how can we be better."
Valerie understands her baby's odds, but wishes she didn't have to deliver Sophia the way she did.
"Something as stupid as I was standing there, and I would look at the toilet, and I was scared to go to the bathroom," said Valerie, when asked about returning to her home where the birth happened, "and I know that sounds so crazy, but I didn't know what would happen."
Valerie had no signs of labor when she first went to Erlanger.
Doctors checked for a change in her cervix and saw none, and consulted with her OBGYN before releasing her.
Channel 3 checked with several medical experts not connected to this story. They say based on her symptoms, and no change in cervix, it would have been nearly impossible to predict Valerie's premature labor.
Erlanger released this statement when asked what a patient should do if he/she feels uncomfortable with being discharged:
"Any time a patient or family member disagrees with the decision to discharge, he/she should express this concern to the patient's nurse who would see to it the responsible physician address the concerns and work towards a solution." - Jennifer Homa, Erlanger Public Relations