When a child is injured during the birthing process, Georgia law requires parents to bring a claim to recover the future medical expenses within two years of the negligent act, even though the child has seven years to file suit. But what happens when you didn’t realize and weren’t told there was medical negligence surrounding the birth?
Parents represented by BLG recently won an appeal answering this question because evidence was uncovered during the case that the medical providers concealed important information from the parents, including that the baby’s breech presentation was not determined upon admission, that there were fetal heart decelerations during the birthing process and that there was a 33-minute gap just before the birth, where no fetal heart rate was recorded. The hospital also redacted the time stamps from the lab reports to make discovery of the negligence more difficult.
Despite that more than two years has passed, the parents still sued asserting the medical errors caused their baby to suffer brain damage and develop cerebral palsy. The suit also claimed that the medical providers tried to hide their mistakes by saying the baby was not deprived of oxygen during the birthing process. After BLG uncovered many misrepresentations that were made to the family, the nurse midwife and hospital defendants sought to dismiss the parents´ claims for future medical expenses as untimely.
In a 19-page opinion, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the evidence was “sufficient to create a jury question on the issue of whether Defendants´ deliberately misrepresented and withheld information.” The appeal successfully reversed a trial court ruling that would have prevented the parents from recovering the cost of future medical care to treat cerebral palsy until she was 18 years old.
This is a significant case for other victims of medical malpractice because it expressly reaffirms that “a physician has a fiduciary duty to inform his patient of any injury or negligent mistreatment [and that the patient] has the right to rely upon what her physician tells her.” Therefore, when a doctor, nurse or hospital doesn’t give a full disclosure about what happens in a medical procedure, the time to sue for medical negligence can be tolled.