Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Jehovah's Witness Loses Malpractice Suit Complaining About Life-Saving Blood Transfusion

In DiGeronimo v. Fuchs, (NY S.Ct. Richmond Cty., Aug. 4, 2011), a New York trial court dismissed a medical malpractice claim brought against a doctor who saved a woman's life by giving her a blood transfusion. Plaintiff, a Jehovah's Witness, objected on religious grounds to the transfusion which became necessary due to complications after she delivered a child.  Her husband signed a consent for the transfusion when he was advised that without it his wife would die.  The court held:
there is no precedent for finding medical malpractice when a blood transfusion was the proximate cause of saving a life. Here, the plaintiff may be offended or even emotionally distressed that another person's blood was transfused into her body, which is apparently not in keeping with her beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. Notwithstanding the fact that the plaintiff's husband, another Jehovah's Witness who was her health care proxy, signed a consent for the transfusion, the plaintiff's emotional distress concerning the blood transfusion does not rise to the level of an injury, as that term is used as an element of a medical malpractice action.

.... Since the plaintiff's transfusion saved her life, this action is analogous to one for "wrongful life" against the doctor. However, there is no cause of action for "wrongful life" in the State of New York.
 SI Live reports on the decision.