Las Vegas hospital sued after woman dies from ‘septic abortion’ in 2022

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A 24-year-old woman died of complications from a septic abortion, and her family has sued Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican Hospital on Blue Diamond Road, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Alyona Dixon of Pahrump died Sept. 28, 2022, six days after she sought help at a Planned Parenthood clinic for a medically induced abortion. Four days later, she went to St. Rose Dominican’s Blue Diamond campus with “sharp” lower abdominal pain that started the previous day, according to details provided in the lawsuit.

After a few tests — notably without a pelvic exam or a consultation with a gynecologist — Dixon was discharged on the afternoon of Sept. 26, the lawsuit says. She was told to follow up with a gynecologist, and go to the emergency room right away if her symptoms worsened or changed.

Dixon went to the emergency room at Desert View Hospital in Pahrump after 11 p.m. on Sept. 27, and also reported vaginal bleeding. A doctor there described her condition: “abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, severe dehydration, acute renal failure, leukocytosis, sepsis, lactic acidosis, hypokalemia, sinus tachycardia, metabolic acidoses, pulseless electrical activity, respiratory failure.” After treating Dixon and seeing her symptoms improve, the doctor got approval to transfer her to a Clark County hospital.

But her condition quickly deteriorated an hour later and she remained at Desert View, according to an attorney.

(Photo provided by Bighorn Law)
(Photo provided by Bighorn Law)

As her heart rate elevated to 150 and she had trouble breathing, doctors worked to intubate and sedate her. She vomited during the process and her heart stopped. Attempts to resuscitate her failed, and she was declared dead at 5:32 a.m. on Sept. 28. The Clark County Coroner’s Office gave her cause of death as “complications from septic abortion.”

The lawsuit alleges that doctors at Dignity Health’s Blue Diamond campus should have seen the severity of Dixon’s problems on Sept. 26 and properly treated her.

The lawsuit names Dignity Health Emerus – Blue Diamond, Dr. Hayden Maag and an unspecified number of unnamed nurses and companies. The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Kimball Jones and Mark Rouse of Bighorn Law in Las Vegas.

It seeks payment of Dixon’s medical, funeral and burial expenses, special damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages — in excess of $15,000 for each of the categories. The lawsuit also seeks general damages for Dixon’s husband, Michael, and son, Wesley.

“The death of Alyona Dixon was tragic and devastating for her young family,” Rouse said Friday. “Alyona loved kids and hoped to one day operate a kid’s play center. Unfortunately, she will never have that opportunity. We believe the evidence will show that Alyona’s death was preventable and that the defendants should be held accountable for their conduct.”

The lawsuit includes a four-page letter from Dr. Hany Atallah, chief medical officer at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The letter describes the details of the care given to Dixon, as well as Attalah’s opinions on missteps.

Atallah’s letter claims Dr. Maag failed to properly evaluate Dixon before she was discharged, he failed to “adequately rule out” sepsis as the cause of Dixon’s symptoms and he “minimized the significance of the ascites” present on a CT scan.

When she went to Planned Parenthood, Dixon was “determined to be an appropriate candidate for elective termination of pregnancy with mifepristone followed 24-48 hours later by misoprostol intravaginally,” according to Atallah’s letter. But it does not say she was given the treatment. “She was appropriately counseled about the risks of the medical abortion and was discharged home,” the letter says.

Dixon had given birth in December of 2021 — just nine months earlier, according to the letter. The new pregnancy was discovered during a physical exam in August 2022, estimated to be at just over eight weeks.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KLAS.