AYETTEVILLE, NC (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Medical Board says doctors and interns at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center attempted to induce labor on a patient, but when that didn't work, they performed a cesarean section only to find out there was no baby.
The incident happened in November 2008, but the state medical board spent the past year reviewing the case. In January, they issued the two doctors involved letters of concern.
ABC11 Eyewitness News spoke with one of the doctors involved who explained how something so bizarre could have happened.
Doctor Gerianne Geszler was in charge of the doctors on duty at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center the night of the incident.
Geszler says several doctors had examined and attempted to induce labor on the patient for several days before the C-section incident.
"They did an epidural on her and when they opened up and made the incision, they saw a non-pregnant uterus," Geszler said.
At that point the doctors "closed her back up."
Doctor Dorette Grant is the physician who performed the C-section.
The NC Medical Board issued her a letter of concern that said in part, "you attempted to perform a cesarean section delivery on Patient A after a failed attempt at induction of labor."
"At the time of surgery, it was discovered that Patient A was not pregnant," Board President Donald E. Jablonski said in the letter.
Dr. Geszler says an intern made the original diagnosis.
"And so she said she did an ultrasound and she said no heart beat," Geszler said. "So [the patient] convinced the resident that she wanted to be induced at Cape Fear Valley, so the resident said can I induce here and I said okay."
According to the medical board, the initial diagnosis was made by healthcare providers without the necessary experience to make the appropriate diagnosis.
"Your inappropriate reliance on their diagnosis and the failure to conduct your own examination were contributing factors in the unnecessary attempt at a caesarian delivery," said Jablonski in a letter to Geszler.
The patient was actually suffering from pseudocyesis, symptoms associated with pregnancy even though they are not pregnant. The false pregnancy can be caused by changes in the body and hormones, emotional distress or an endocrine disorder.
The hospital administration didn't want to comment on the incident.
Meanwhile, both doctors continue to practice in Fayetteville. Dr. Geszler is still a gynecologist, but doesn't deliver babies anymore.
Doctor Grant is still an OBGYN, but she was unable to speak with ABC11 Wednesday, because she was busy delivering two babies.