A Norwich, Connecticut-based OB-GYN facility reached a $2 million settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a couple claimed that genetic testing they’d ordered during pregnancy was never performed.
According to the couples’ attorney, Kelly Reardon, the alleged mistake was likely related to OB-GYN Services Inc.’s then-new electronic health record system, which had presented issues with accessing laboratory results.
“We think the fact that the test was never ordered was overlooked due to the software issue,” Reardon told The Day.
OB-GYN Services did not return requests for comment by press time.
WHY IT MATTERS
Elizabeth Trotter sued OB-GYN Services in November 2018, shortly after the birth of her second child, who has cystic fibrosis.
Trotter had asked for genetic testing when she was pregnant with her first child in 2016, but a cystic fibrosis screening was apparently never done due to issues with the EHR, according to Reardon. She did not request a test during her second pregnancy, believing one had been already been performed two years prior.
Although neither OB-GYN Services nor Reardon responded to questions about which EHR had been used, the revised version of the lawsuit filed in August of this year mentions the patients’ “meditech chart,” suggesting that the facility was a customer of the Massachusetts-based vendor Meditech.
Meditech did not respond to requests for comment about whether OB-GYN Services was a customer at the time of the alleged incident.
“At all times herein, the Plaintiff, Elizabeth Trotter, was unaware that no Cystic Fibrosis/fragile X/SMA screening had been ordered by the Defendants and drawn by Quest Diagnostics, but was under the belief that said screening had been ordered and performed,” read the suit.
Reardon told Law.com that Trotter would not have become pregnant a second time, had she known she was a carrier for the cystic fibrosis gene. The Trotter family said they planned to use the $2 million insurance policy limit for their second daughter’s medical care.
According to Reardon, OB-GYN Services also agreed to speak to the Trotters via Zoom as part of the settlement. One of the defendants, Dr. David Kalla, reportedly apologized and said policies had changed so the mistake would not be repeated.
“This meeting with Dr. Kalla was the most important thing for my client,” said Reardon.
THE LARGER TREND
EHR-related malpractice suits have been on the rise in recent years, with both system factors and user errors contributing to alleged medical errors. In 2017, experts advised providers to be aware that they are responsible for the data to which they have access.
“Review all available data and information prior to treating a patient,” wrote Dr. David Troxel, MD, medical director at The Doctors Company, who coauthored a study about EHR-related malpractice claims.
“The healthcare setting, accessibility of data, and acuity of the patient’s situation and condition will dictate what will be considered reasonable by a court,” he said.
ON THE RECORD
“Since 2001 [cystic fibrosis] prenatal testing is the standard of care being offered to all women, as part of routine obstetrical testing in the USA. The failure to properly test for CF in this case denied Ms. Trotter and her husband the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding whether to conceive a second child,” read a letter from a diplomat from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology exhibited as evidence in the suit.