Technical Legal Requirement Nearly Bars Mother's Birth Injury Case

Earlier this year in a case in front of the Connecticut Supreme Court, the court had occasion to consider a mother’s case against several nurses and mid-wives who attended the birth of her child. According to court documents, the woman claimed that the defendants failed to exercise the proper level of care when assisting with the birth. This resulted in a fourth-degree tear in the plaintiff’s vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and anal sphincter at the time of birth.

Wilkins v. Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center
In the recent case of Wilkins v. Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center, the plaintiff was injured during childbirth, and the injury was compounded when the nurses failed to diagnose and treat the fourth-degree tear. Ultimately, this resulted in serious, permanent injury to the plaintiff and a loss of consortium for her husband.

The woman brought suit against the mid-wives and nurses she believed were responsible for the negligent delivery. To support her claim, she provided an expert’s opinion that the defendants did in fact provide substandard medical care. The expert selected by the plaintiff was an obstetrician.

The Plaintiff’s Case Is Dismissed at Trial
One of the procedural requirements in Connecticut for medical malpractice cases is that the plaintiff obtain an expert opinion prior to filing suit that the defendant was negligent in providing care to the plaintiff. This expert must practice in the same field as the defendant, or be a “similar health care provider.”

The defendants in this case argued that the woman erred in submitting an opinion from an obstetrician, rather than from a midwife. The defendants claim that an obstetrician is not in the same field as a midwife, and therefore the plaintiff did not comply with the procedural requirement. The trial court agreed with the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

On Appeal, the Plaintiff’s Case is Allowed to Proceed
When the case was taken up on appeal, it was reversed by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The high court determined that an obstetrician is a “similar health care provider” to a midwife. The court noted that the two perform similar functions in that they assist a mother in the birth of a child.

The court considered two main criteria: whether the doctor is trained and experienced in the same specialty and whether he or she is certified by the appropriate American board in the same specialty.

After considering these factors, the court determined that the two positions were similar enough to satisfy the requirements of the statute.

Have You Suffered Through a Birth Injury?

If you or your child suffered at the hands of a negligent physician during the birthing procedure, you may be entitled to monetary damages. However, as you can see from the case mentioned above, there are myriad technical legal requirements that come along with filing any birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. Therefore, it is advised to secure the assistance of a dedicated Maryland birth injury attorney prior to filing. Call (410) 567-0800 to set up a free initial consultation with a dedicated attorney today.

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