Catherine Skol, holding her daughter Julia, 9 months, is suing the doctor who handled Julia's delivery. (Tribune photo by Chuck Berman / December 15, 2008)
Catherine Skol is not a wimp. She spent a decade as a Chicago police officer, working in rough assignments such as the tactical unit, until a head-on collision on the job put her on medical disability.
But none of that prepared her for the hell of labor she endured last March when she arrived at Rush University Medical Center at about 4 a.m. to have her fifth child.
A civil suit filed Monday in Cook County said Dr. Scott Pierce—a fill-in for Skol's doctor who was out of town—arrived four hours later and immediately chastised Skol for not calling ahead. The suit said the doctor told Skol she would soon have the baby and that there was no time for pain medication.
Later, Pierce allegedly told a nurse that Skol deserved the pain because she had not called before coming in. "Sometimes pain is the best teacher," the suit quoted him as saying.
The doctor conducted a painful vaginal exam in the middle of a contraction and then told Skol to start pushing, despite not being fully dilated, according to the suit.
Pierce also berated her and hospital staff who questioned him, telling her to "Shut up, close your mouth and push," the suit said. Pierce said Skol was likely to hemorrhage during birth and said the baby might die, causing Skol and her husband to fear complaining, the suit alleged.
Pierce also made cell phone calls during the more than two-hour labor, cursing about colleagues and talking about an abortion for a woman he said should never have gotten pregnant, the suit said.
After the birth, Pierce gave Skol needless stiches for tiny tears, using a needle that was unnecessarily large, the suit alleged.
A spokeswoman for Rush said Monday that the hospital doesn't condone the actions described in the suit but said Pierce is in private practice and not employed by the hospital. After an investigation, the hospital disciplined him with a written warning and indefinite probation. If he erred again, he would then be barred from the hospital, she said.
Skol's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation is also investigating Pierce. Pierce declined to comment.
"It was the worst pain I ever had in my life," said Skol, 40. "I just don't want him to hurt another person."