A unanimous three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that the family of a patient who repeatedly refused blood transfusions on religious grounds may not pursue a medical malpractice claim related to the patient’s death, according to a recent article in the Legal Intelligencer.
The patient involved in the case was hospitalized with complications related to her pregnancy. Both in writing and verbally, she told doctors and other medical staff that she did not want a blood transfusion, even telling one doctor that she “would rather die” than receive a transfusion. Medical staff, concerned that the patient would not survive without a blood transfusion, asked family members to intervene. The family declined to do so, and the patient ultimately died.
The patient’s husband filed a medical malpractice suit. During the trial, medical experts for both the family and the hospital testified that a transfusion would have saved the patient’s life. However, the jury found that no negligence had occurred, and the judge denied a number of post-trial motions from the patient’s family challenging this verdict.
The Superior Court held that the trial judge had not erred by refusing to grant the post-trial motions, as well as other motions made during trial to prohibit the patient’s refusal of the blood transfusion to be admitted into evidence.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient receives substandard care and suffers harm as a result. Severe injuries or illnesses resulting from malpractice can prove fatal. While the religious beliefs of a patient or their family can complicate questions of appropriate care, these beliefs are important and must be weighed within the context of treatment to determine if the standard of care is met.
If you or someone you love has been injured by negligence in a medical setting, don’t hesitate to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer. Contact Matzus Law LLC today.
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