As discussed in the previous post, a court in Pennsylvania recently ruled that a mother could sue the doctor who delivered her baby for causing emotional distress even though he didn’t cause harm through physical negligence. The mother was shocked when the baby who her doctor had informed her during checkups was perfectly healthy was born with a number of severe deformities.
The court recently ruled that the mother could sue the doctor to recover for emotional distress when a doctor mistakenly tells a mother that a baby is perfectly healthy. The ruling is somewhat surprising, considering the concept in tort law that in order to recover for emotional distress, there must be some sort of physical injury to the person as well.
However, this ruling recognizes the severity of the pain that a patient or family member can experience when a doctor makes a mistake, whether that mistake leads to physical harm or extreme emotional distress — or both. Courts in the state can now consider cases of emotional distress even where no evidence of physical negligence exists.
While it remains to be seen whether the mother will be able to recover damages from the doctor, the ruling is expected by some legal experts to expand to other jurisdictions, which could include Ohio. The ruling opens the door to expanded legal remedies for families, including mothers who have been injured by a doctor or families whose babies or mothers have been injured.
Source: Medical Daily, “Doctors Can Be Sued for Emotional Distress Even Without Physical Negligence,” Christine Hsu, Jan. 31, 2012