Physicians for Women's Health LLC v. Essent Healthcare of Connecticut
To prevail on an indemnification claim, a plaintiff may be required to prove a causal connection between a departure from the medical standard of care and the patient's injury. At 4:20 a.m. on March 15, 2003, Heather Vincent arrived at the labor and delivery floor at Sharon Hospital. At approximately 6:46 a.m., nurses discovered that the fetal heart rate was significantly lower and called Dr. Howard Mortman, an obstretrician who resided about two miles away. Vincent's child was delivered at 7:56 a.m. with a heart rate that was less than 30 beats per minute. Oxygen restored the infant's heart rate to normal. The infant allegedly sustained brain damage, spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Dr. Mortman and Physicians for Women's Health agreed to pay $500,000, to settle the Vincents' claims. Physicians for Women's Health proceeded to file an indemnification complaint, arguing that Mortman was not negligent, and even if he was, his negligence was passive, and the hospital was the sole actively negligent party. Physicians for Women's Health argued that Dr. Mortman was unable to perform the C-section within 30 minutes, as required by the hospital's protocol, because the hospital did not provide adequate personnel. The parties disputed whether Dr. Mortman ordered an emergency C-section at 6:51 a.m. Mortman did not appear rushed, or make any immediate reference to an emergency C-section, when he arrived at the hospital. The court found that he did not order the emergency C-Section until 7:14 a.m. Physicians for Women's Health was required to prove a causal connection between a departure from the medical standard of care and the Vincents' injury. Dr. David Schwartz opined that the fetus had problems, prior to the mother's admission to the hospital. Allegedly, the placenta indicated that the chorionic villi was shrunken and degenerative, which could indicate chronic restrictions in blood flow to the uterus and result in neurological abnormalities. Dr. Alan Bedrick also opined that the fetus suffered from central nervous problems for a lengthy duration, as opposed to from the failure to deliver the infant within 30 minutes of 7:14 a.m. The court granted judgment to the defendants.