A nurse from Philadelphia who went viral last year for questioning a pregnant patient’s health concerns is being sued.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Theresa Smigo, a nurse at the Philly Pregnancy Center’s Norristown clinic. In the suit, Jillian Rightmyer claims Smigo was “negligent, racially discriminated against Rightmyer, and failed to properly provide medical care.” Smigo went viral last year after her patient, Rightmyer, 25, recorded her accusing Rightmeyer of lying about her pain level. One doctor even sided with the patient, but Smigo continued to doubt her claims.
According to the suit, Rightmyer went to the clinic in October 2022 with extreme back pain during her third trimester. She was seeking a doctor’s note that would allow her to begin maternity leave early from her job—two months before her due date.
Nurse Smigo gave Rightmyer an exam, which she described as aggressive, and wouldn’t give her a note. Things became contentious after Nurse Smigo continued taunting the seven-months-pregnant patient in the lobby. In the video, Smigo tells the mom-to-be that leaving work due to her pregnancy would be a fraud. “What were you thinking about when you were pregnant — that you were not going to work?” Smigo asked. “Because I had three kids. I worked up until the second they were born.”
The video drew the attention of the American Nurses Association and Pennsylvania Nurses Association, advocating that the conflict between the patient and nurse of different backgrounds was unacceptable. “The behavior demonstrated by a white nurse-practitioner at the Philadelphia Pregnancy Center toward an expectant Black mother in a widely shared video was unethical, unprofessional, and unacceptable,” the statement read.
Legal counsel representing Rightmyer said in the lawsuit their client “simply requested adequate prenatal and medical care, to no avail,” Philly Magazine reported. “Instead, her “requests were met with discrimination, hostility, and abuse.”