ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Veronica Glaubach: Joy of Birth, Then Tragedy

Veronica Glaubach’s nurses missed crucial signs of a life-threatening complication during and after childbirth, her family alleged. She died. The nursing board absolved the nurses.

Veronica Glaubach told her father to wait until the week after she gave birth before flying to California from Buenos Aires to meet the baby. When the infant was a day old, however, Roberto Glaubach was told to come immediately.

Veronica was brain-dead.

The cause of her 2002 death was complications from pre-eclampsia, a relatively common condition in pregnancy that can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Roberto Glaubach has spent years and more than $100,000 seeking to hold someone responsible. He has made 20 trips to California and sent letter after letter. In one missive to the state Board of Registered Nursing, he attached Veronica’s photo: “The face of a human being who some irresponsible and little-prepared nurses killed at 28 years of age,” he wrote.

In 2005, state hospital regulators faulted three nurses for not telling doctors of Veronica’s high blood pressure or assessing her for pre-eclampsia. Glaubach also obtained a $550,000 legal settlement for his granddaughter after suing the hospital and two doctors.

Five years after Veronica’s death, the nursing board weighed in, saying in a letter to Glaubach that an outside expert found the treatment “within the standards of care” under state law.

“The board appreciates the profound depth of your loss. However, any further review of this matter would not result in a different opinion.”

“I was astonished,” Glaubach said. “My loss is for the rest of my life.”

ROBERTO ALEJANDRO GLAUBACH

July 17, 2009, 2:14 p.m.

Mr Charles Ornstein:first of all thank you from the bottom of our souls.Thank you for having pay attention to Veronica´s case and let us collaborate in your investigation. You deserve each one and all the recognitions and important prizes you´ve got.The meticulosity with which you managed your work in Veronica´s case ,asking for every single documentation as witnesses reports,letters submitted to and received from the boards officers and investigators,med records,etc etc,are talking -without any single doubt -about a remarkable professionality .Bravo Charlie. you made big waves that will get arise big changes indeed. The “silent-hurted- majotity” I´m sure is applauding you effort to lift that awful and heavy black curtain which is (or was ?) veiling the true facts that conducted health care in California to the existing mess. It seems that the river sound announces water and,new refreshing air,because,paraphrasing Shakespeare,..something smells nasty in californian boards.Could be widely interesting and a good culmination of your “periodistic work of art” if you take an investigative look over the Medical Board of California. Perhaps you will get surprising findings. Let´s see how does the authorities of said Board accomplish its duties emerging from the 2005 Final Report of the Enforcement Program Monitor Project,suscribed by Julianne Felmeth and Tomas Papageorge.I am aware that perhaps,we are facing simply cosmetical changes. Perhaps now,as a direct consequence of your report,Veronica´s case and many other cases could be revised by the new authorities in order to establish the due responsibilities of involved wrongdoers. Thank you again.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
When Caregivers Harm

When Caregivers Harm: America's Unwatched Nurses

California has failed to protect patients from nurses who are incompetent and dangerous.

The Story So Far

In California, nurses accused of serious wrongdoing have often been left free to practice for years while their cases were being investigated—with patients unaware of the danger.

The board that oversees the state’s registered nurses has taken more than three years, on average, to discipline nurses with histories of drug abuse, negligence, incompetence and violence.

More »

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