A Jehovah's Witness has lost a malpractice suit over a blood transfusion.
The unidentified plaintiff had complications after childbirth, and her husband -- also a Jehovah's Witness -- granted permission for the blood transfusion after doctors told him that his wife, who had already refused permission, would otherwise die. She survived and sued, claiming medical malpractice.
The New York trial court dismissed the case, holding there is no precedent for finding medical malpractice when a blood transfusion was the proximate case of saving a live -- regardless if the patient may be offended or even emotionally distressed by the hospital's actions, which in this case were inconsistent with her religious beliefs.
Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University's School of Law and founder of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, takes issue with the ruling.
"This lower-court judge dismissed this five-year-old case against the doctor and the university hospital, ruling that the transfusion did not deviate from accepted standards of care; and that this individual had failed to show that the infusion of someone else's blood had hurt her," he explains.
That, according to Staver, is not the appropriate legal standard. "The criteria is not whether it actually hurt her -- the criteria is whether she has a religious objection to having a blood transfusion. And the answer clearly, for most Jehovah's Witnesses, is yes -- and therefore that's the end of the story. This judge clearly got it wrong on the constitutional issues involved."
Staver adds that usually when courts step in and order a blood transfusion for a Jehovah's Witness, it involves a child.
Are they nuts or what? The husbands grants permission for the transfusion "after doctors told him that his wife would otherwise die"; she gets blood, survives, and they sue? She should sue her husband, in case. Yes, they are nuts, we know.