Prominent Washington-area abortion doctor Milan Vuitch and his clinic have agreed to pay $150,000 to the family of a West Virginia woman who failed to revive from general anesthesia and died following an abortion she received at the clinic three years ago.
Just before the case was about to go to trial Wednesday, Vuitch, the Laurel Clinic at 1712 I St. NW and a staff anesthesiologist there settled out of court but admitted no wrongdoing in connection with the death of Georgianna English, a 32-year-old legal secretary who suffered a cardiopulminary collapse after an abortion she had at the clinic. Vuitch and the clinic agreed to pay $75,000 within 30 days to English's family.
The balance is to be paid over a seven-year period.
Vuitch, a director of the clinic, gained prominence in 1969 when he was convicted of performing illegal abortions and then argued the constitutionality of District and Maryland abortion laws before the Supreme Court.
According to the suit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, English's death was caused by an overdose of the anesthetic Brevital that had been administered by Vuitch without the aid of an anesthesiologist.
An attorney for the English family, Jean O'Malley, maintained in court papers that the anesthetic had been administered improperly, that English had not been tested before she was given the drug and that Vuitch and the clinic failed to have proper resuscitation equipment.
According to the suit, Vuitch negligently failed to remain in the operating room to oversee his patient's recovery from the anesthesia. O'Malley also contended that Strahill D. Nacev, an anesthesiologist at the clinic, had breached standards of care by allowing unqualified persons to administer anesthesia.
Lawyers for the doctors and the clinic contended that English had not been given an overdose of the anesthetic and that "no standard of care was violated."
English was 10 weeks pregnant at the time and had had three previous abortions performed by Vuitch at the clinic, according to court papers. Immediately after the last operation on Jan. 9, 1980, she became comatose.
Vuitch, in court papers, said he attempted to revive the patient with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. English was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where she died two days later after suffering massive brain damage.
Nacev, the anesthesiologist also named in the suit, said he was not at the clinic at the time of the operation but that "the usual manner of administering anesthesia . . . was safe. . . . "