MAG & state court aligned on key ER/OB-GYN case

The Georgia Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that is consistent with an amicus brief that the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) filed in OB-GYN Associates, P.A. et al. v. Kimberly Brown et al., a case that involves a shoulder dystocia that took place during the birth of a patient’s child.

MAG General Counsel Bethany Sherrer explains that, “In this case, a nurse-midwife was able to deliver the child within 40 seconds, but the child suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury. The Brown family sued, alleging that the child’s injury was a result of the nurse-midwife application of excessive traction.”

Georgia enacted an emergency medicine gross negligence statute in 2005 that is applicable “in a hospital emergency department or obstetrical unit or in a surgical suite immediately following the evaluation or treatment of a patient in a hospital emergency department” (O.C.G.A. s. 51-1-29.5(c). The Brown’s legal counsel and the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, in an amicus brief that it filed with the court, asserted that the limiting provision “immediately following the evaluation or treatment of a patient in a hospital emergency department” would apply to an “obstetrical unit.”

Sherrer notes that, “MAG argued that this provision only applies to a ‘surgical suite’ and not an ‘obstetrical suite,’ which means that the underlying shoulder dystocia case, a heightened standard of gross negligence, should apply.”

The Court of Appeals has remanded the case to the trial court for “proceedings consistent with that interpretation (i.e., the heightened standard).”

Sherrer concludes that, “This is an important development because it will help to ensure the accessibility of emergency care in Georgia – keeping mind that 76 counties in the state did not have an obstetrician/gynecologist as of 2018.”

MAG members can contact Sherrer at bsherrer@mag.org with questions about this case.

MAG brief

Court order