Wrongful Death: Expert Not Qualified to Testify about Hospital's "Bloodless Medicine Program"; Consent Forms Showed Patient Knowingly Refused Life-Saving Treatment

November 1, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A Pennsylvania court of appeals upheld a jury verdict exonerating an obstetrician and an obstetrics resident from negligence in a wrongful-death suit. The patient, who refused blood transfusions because of her religious beliefs, bled to death after surgical complications occurred during a cesarean delivery. The appeals court also found that the trial court did not err in precluding trial testimony from the plaintiff's medical expert witness that the hospital was negligent in operating, staffing, and maintaining its "bloodless medicine program."

The hospital's bloodless medicine program was an administrative program designed by the hospital to help Jehovah's Witness patients and other patients who do not wish to receive blood or blood products in formulating their advance directives. Three hospital staff members, all Jehovah's Witnesses, were responsible for explaining the risks of not receiving blood transfusions to patients who refuse them and for explaining alternative treatment methods; ensuring...

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