Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Damages Granted in PTSD after Childbirth Case

I have wondered if there is a legal precedent of a case where a woman successfully sued a doctor or hospital for malpractice and medical negiligance that caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the patient. I would like to take my case to court in an effort to bring awareness to birth attendants, health care providers and the public that doctors are abusing laboring women in their care. Women's personal dignity and privacy is being impinged upon, as well as their patient's right to informed consent is being violated. Women are then suffering mental anguish, sometimes on top of a physically debilitating recovery. This is not an issue about alive and healthy mothers and babies, but its a human rights issue where women are being subjected to forms of torture and rape at the hands of their "care" providers.

In Meader vs. Stahler and Gheridian, $1.5 million was awarded to a family after a women suffered PTSD after an unneccessary C-section which she was coerced into by her doctors. Her lawyers argued that the doctors violated her right to informed consent and their negiligance in turn caused her months of agonizing physical and emotional recovery.

An article written about the case in Forensic Psychiatry and Medicine states:
Thus, it was not simply the physically disabling consequences of the surgery, but the loss of personal decision-making power concerning her body, her health, and the birth of her child, that caused Meador to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Similarly, her husband's experience of loss of consortium was exacerbated by the physicians' failure to consult him to interpret his wife's wishes during labor. Instead of having participated in a true informed-consent process, he was left to feel powerless and helpless. In this way, forensic psychiatric testimony established a persuasive causal link between the lack of informed consent and the physical and emotional damages suffered by the patient and her family.

So there's my precedent! If a lawyer were to take on my case, he/she would be able to use Meaders case as evidence that others in our society and judicial system have viewed PTSD afterchild birth as a preventable condition and poor outcome caused by doctors who are not doing their jobs correctly. It was just that which lead to me experiencing PTSD after birthing in an abusive, manipulative hospital environment.

The above cited article goes on to discuss the relationship between informed consent and managed care (remember that labor care in hospitals is called aggressive management). It states that malpractice litigation based on violations of informed consent will become more frequent as medical care becomes more managed. The article mentions that "physicians may also be held liable for failing to inform patients about the conflict of interest they experience between their duties to patients and the dictates of managed care."

It was that conflict of interest that I encountered, where the manipulative and coercive treatment I received to convince me to either leave the hospital or consent to procedures against my wishes was done with the intent to clear the labor and delivery room faster so other patients (and their money) could come in, and in turn the hospital wouldn't be "wasting" money on me holding up their room.

A publication is currently being drafted by the American Medical Association that asserts that"physicians must serve their patients' best interests regardless of financial incentives." And if they do not, physicians can be held liable for damages.

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