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Postpartum maternal death associated with undiagnosed Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Medicine, Science, and the Law

diagnosis, Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic, Pregnancy, Mediastinal Neoplasms, Humans, Hodgkin Disease, Female, complications, Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, legislation & jurisprudence, Diagnostic Errors, Cesarean Section, etiology, Cerebral Hemorrhage

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      The authors describe the case of a 28-year-old patient who died from an extensive intracerebral haemorrhage due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) which occurred a few days after delivery. Access to an emergency department of gynaecology on three separate occasions in the three days preceding hospitalization made judicial evaluation of the case necessary. The case was studied with a methodological approach based on the following steps: (1) examination of clinical records; (2) autopsy; (3) study of the placenta; (4) anatomo-histopathological observations concerning particular organs and structures potentially involved in postpartum maternal death; and (5) evaluation of physicians' behaviour, in the light of necroscopic findings and a review of the literature. The causes of death most frequently described in the postpartum period were excluded; a mediastinal nodular sclerosing Hodgkin's lymphoma with transdiaphragmatic diffusion, not diagnosed in life, was demonstrated. The cause of death was identified as intracerebral haemorrhage following DIC, Hodgkin's disease and recent delivery by caesarean section. Analysis of the physicians' conduct, together with a review of the literature, revealed a medical error. However, no causal relationship between the error and the death of the patient was considered to exist. The interest of the case lies in the unusual cause of DIC discussed in relation to a hypothesis of obstetric-gynaecological liability.

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