A California woman is suing a hospital for wrongful death because her husband fainted and suffered a fatal injury after helping delivery room staff give her a pain-killing injection.
Jeanette Passalaqua, 32, filed the suit against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group Inc. in San Bernardino County state court last week.
In June 2004, Passalaqua’s husband, Steven Passalaqua, was asked by Kaiser staff to hold and steady his wife while an employee inserted an epidural needle into her back, court papers said.
The sight of the needle caused Steven Passalaqua, 33, to faint and he fell backward, striking his head on an aluminum cap molding at the base of the wall.
Jeanette Passalaqua delivered the couple’s second child, a boy, later that day. Steven Passalaqua, however, suffered a brain hemorrhage as a result of his fall and died two days later, the lawsuit said.
The suit seeks unspecified damages related to Steven Passalaqua’s death and to Jeanette Passalaqua’s emotional distress at being widowed with two young children.
Because Passalaqua was solicited by Kaiser to assist in the epidural, the lawsuit said, the hospital “owed him a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries resulting from his participation.”
A spokesman for Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente called the death “a tragic accident.”
“Some of the allegations in the lawsuit are simply that --allegations. The legal process is under way and we should respect that,” said Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson.