Physician Expert Witness Evaluates Premature Hospital Discharge

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 2, 2017

Physician Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Illinois and involves complications suffered by an infant shortly after birth. The child was born, and underwent a blood test to screen for various disorders. However, the testing was not received by the state lab until several days later. The defending family medicine doctor delivered and discharged the infant from the hospital. However, the records indicate that the infant was experiencing symptoms which may indicate a premature discharge from the hospital. Eventually, the infant was brought back to the hospital on in shock. He was transferred to another facility where a blood test revealed a serious imbalance in his blood chemistry.  It was soon discovered the child suffered from a rare genetic disease that could have been revealed from the blood screening. The baby now suffers from permanent brain damage.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you routinely treat patients similar to the one described in the case? Please explain.
  • 2. Have you ever had a patient develop the outcome described in the case? What could have been potentially done to avoid the outcome for this patient?
  • 3. When do you make the decision to discharge the patient, in this case an infant?
  • 4. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a case similar to the one described above? If so, please explain.
  • 5. Please tell us why you?re qualified to serve as an expert reviewer of this case.

Expert Witness Response E-006777

I do get engaged in reviewing and approving policies at hospitals.  And I did hospital based newborn medicine, including screening for, evaluating and managing babies with genetic disorders.  However, I am not a hospital director and I only see babies in outpatient setting now, not in the hospital setting. I have never served as an expert witness in a similar case.  Batching is a common practice, but I do not know about this particular test.   I am very familiar with the issues related to setting clinical and hospital policies.  However, I would think that you may want to recruit a neonatalogist or a pediatric geneticist who is familiar with setting hospital policies, rather than a family physician who deals with neonatal screening issues frequently but with actual genetic diseases only occasionally.

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