A New York woman has filed a lawsuit against the Staten Island University Hospital, two physicians, and their practice groups, claiming that she was forced, against her will, to undergo a cesarean section. The woman, Rinat Dray, had delivered her first two children through C-section. However, upon learning she was pregnant again she began to investigate options for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Dray had interviewed providers and even switched OB-GYN practice groups to a group she believed would support and respect her decision.
Once Dray had gone into labor and checked into the Staten Island University Hospital, she claims that the staff began to pressure her to give her consent for another C-section. After being in labor for several hours, the attending physician told her that unless she agreed to the surgery he would not examine her. She refused to have the surgery. The hospital then consulted with a hospital attorney who authorized the doctors to overrule Dray’s decision.
The complaint states that the hospital’s staff made the decision to ignore the express wishes of Dray with regards to her care and without consulting the hospital’s bioethics department or engaging the hospital’s patient advocate. It was the hospital’s legal department that approved the surgery despite Dray’s explicit objections.
During the C-section Dray had not consented to, the doctors perforated her bladder. It is this injury that forms the basis for most of Dray’s complaint. She is also seeking damages for the hospitals decision to the law and Dray’s rights by ignoring her decision not to have a C-section. However, legal recovery for this claim is not guaranteed despite the wrong done when the hospital ignored her refusal.
The attorney for Dray has asserted several claims. First is the claim for medical malpractice, stating that the hospital and its doctors violated the standard of care when treating Dray when they subjected her to a C-section against her will. This standard of care is set out in the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), among other places. These guidelines emphasize that it is important to respect the patient’s decision making and that VBAC avoids major abdominal surgery, decreases the risk of hemorrhage and infection, and may shorten postpartum recovery time. Additionally, Dray’s attorney is bringing a claim under New York’s public health law, which states that patients have the right to refuse treatment.
If you or a loved one has had patient’s rights violated and/or medical malpractice has occurred, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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