Parents' Suit Allowed to Continue Against Hospital After Stillborn Birth
Earlier this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed a trial and appellate court ruling that prevented the parents of a stillborn girl from pursuing a claim of negligence against a doctor who failed to diagnose the mother with gestational diabetes. At trial, the judge prevented two of the plaintiffs’ experts from testifying that the mother’s untreated diabetes caused the child’s death.
The Facts of the Case
In the case, Weaver v. McKnight, the defendant doctor provided prenatal care to the plaintiff mother up to several weeks before she was due to give birth. As her due date neared, the soon-to-be mother made a regular appointment with an advanced practice registered nurse, who noticed that the child was over 11 pounds. Because of the large size of the fetus, the nurse ordered additional tests that showed the mother’s blood sugar was high.
The nurse told the physician all of the above, and that she believed the
mother may have gestational diabetes. The doctor took that information
and decided that the child should be delivered via a cesarean section
the following week. He did not order further testing on the mother or
When the mother went in to have the cesarean section, however, the delivering doctor could not detect a fetal heart rate. It was determined that the child was dead, and it was delivered the next day.
The parents alleged that the doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat the mother’s gestational diabetes caused the death of their unborn child. To help them prove their case, the parents wanted to have two experts testify to the jury that the gestational diabetes could have been the cause of the child’s death.
However, the trial court prevented the experts from testifying on the basis that that would be opinion testimony that is outside their area of expertise. The court noted that neither of the doctors were pathologists and that neither had extensive experience in diabetes as a cause of death in unborn children.
However, on appeal, the Supreme Court of Connecticut reversed the decision. The Court noted that they had “substantial knowledge and experience directly relevant to determining the cause of stillbirth.” Specific to one expert, the court noted that he had written dozens of publications on gestational diabetes and was board certified as an OB/GYN.
The defendant’s argument that neither of the doctors routinely engage in cause-of-death research was properly a “weight” of the evidence issue, rather than an issue of admissibility. In the end, the plaintiff’s case was remanded with instructions for a new trial.
Have You or Your Child Been Injured During the Birthing Procedure?
As you can see, there are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to put on a successful case of medical negligence, including those of delivery-room errors or prenatal malpractice. If you have suffered an injury yourself, or your child suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence, you may be entitled to monetary damages. The law firm of Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt LLC has extensive experience in medical malpractice cases and would be happy to meet with you about your potential case, free of charge. Contact the firm on their website, or call (410) 567-0800 to schedule a free initial consultation today.