Hospital Liability: Potential Liability for Failure to Adopt Protocols

June 1, 2007 | Health System Risk Management


A hospital's failure to adopt and implement clinical protocols may subject the institution to liability for negligence, according to a ruling by a Texas appeals court in a case involving an infant who developed group B Streptococcus(GBS) infection at birth. The child's mother did not receive prenatal screening, nor was she screened at the hospital before delivery. She sued the hospital and her obstetrician, claiming that they breached accepted standards of care by failing to provide screening and preventive treatment, resulting in harm to her infant.

In August 2002, a year before the infant's birth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a set of clinical practice guidelines and recommendations titled "Prevention of Perinatal Group B Streptococcal Disease." The guidelines indicate that obstetric care providers, in conjunction with supporting laboratories and labor and delivery facilities, should not rely on a risk-based approach when screening results are not available before delivery but instead should screen all pregnant women at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation for vaginal and rectal GBS colonization. CDC guidelines recommend that at the time of labor or the rupture of membranes, intrapartum chemoprophylaxis should be given to all pregnant women identified as GBS carriers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy...

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