BC Supreme Court rules in favour of obstetrician in preterm birth medical negligence case

The obstetrician adhered to adhered to the applicable standard of care throughout the treatment: court

BC Supreme Court rules in favour of obstetrician in preterm birth medical negligence case

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has dismissed a medical negligence claim against Dr. Loida Rivera, an obstetrician and gynecologist.

The lawsuit was initiated by “A.G.” through his mother and litigation guardian, Li Qu, following A.G.'s preterm birth at just over 25 weeks of gestation and the subsequent medical complications he suffered, including "short gut syndrome."

Li Qu visited Dr. Rivera the day before A.G.'s birth, presenting symptoms that could indicate a risk of preterm delivery. The court focused on whether Dr. Rivera met the professional standard of care and if any breach of that care resulted in A.G.'s medical issues.

In A.G. v Rivera, 2024 BCSC 242, the court concluded that Dr. Rivera adhered to the applicable standard of care throughout her treatment of Li Qu. The decision was grounded on the evidence that Dr. Rivera had undertaken a thorough assessment of Qu's condition, appropriately investigated the risks associated with preterm delivery, and engaged in discussions about potential medical interventions, including the use of steroids to enhance fetal lung development.

The court noted the complexities in communication between the doctor and patient, especially regarding sensitive decisions surrounding preterm labour interventions and the welfare of the unborn child. Despite Li Qu's reluctance to engage in discussions about resuscitation and steroid treatment, the court found that Dr. Rivera made reasonable efforts to inform and involve Qu in the decision-making process regarding her care and that of her unborn child.

The court noted that expert testimony highlighted the challenges and standard practices in treating patients at risk of extreme preterm delivery. The court further found that the evidence supported that Dr. Rivera's management of Qu's case was aligned with the expectations of a diligent and prudent obstetrician or gynecologist facing similar circumstances.

The court underscored the importance of patient autonomy in medical decision-making, focusing on the patient's right to be informed and make decisions regarding their medical treatment.

Ultimately, the court found that the plaintiffs had failed to prove a breach of the standard of care. Accordingly, the court dismissed the action.

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