Malpractice News

January 31, 2012

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruled Physician Can Be Sued For Emotional Distress

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that a physician can be sued for allegedly causing a patients to suffer emotional distress, even when no physical impact led to the distress, reported today.

The ruling revolves around a case in which a pregnant women had a pelvic ultrasound and was informed that the results were normal and that no fetal abnormalities were found. When the baby was born however, he had profound deformities, including partial legs and arms.

The mother, Jeanelle Toney, sued the radiologist, Dr. Maheep Goyal, and Chester County Hospital claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress, alleging the doctor failed to prepare her for the shock of the birth.

Toney claims she continues to experience rage, nightmares, nausea, hysteria, ongoing grief, and insomnia.
The lawsuit was thrown out, until the Superior Court of PA reversed the decision under appeal, saying that doctors are ethically and legally responsible for the well being of their patients, and that it was reasonably foreseeable that Toney would endure emotional distress during the birth.

The six justices of the Supreme Court were evenly split as one justice recused herself from the case. The physician and the hospital have petitioned the court for re-argument.

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