Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed Because Plaintiff Did Not Retain a “Similar Health Care Provider” As an Expert: Wilkins v. Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center

676878_88902670.jpgConnecticut law requires a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to obtain an opinion letter from a “similar health care provider” regarding evidence of medical negligence. The question of what constitutes a “similar” provider came before the Appellate Court of Connecticut in Wilkins v. Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center, after a plaintiff sued over injuries she allegedly sustained during childbirth and postpartum care. The court held that the opinion of an OB/GYN did not meet the statutory requirements when the allegedly negligent health care provider was a nurse midwife.

The plaintiff, Kristin Wilkins, sought care from the defendant, Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center (CCWC), during and after her pregnancy. She gave birth on April 17, 2007 under the care of CCWC employees, and she continued to obtain postpartum treatment after the birth. She alleges that CCWC employees, including several nurse midwives and a registered nurse in training, were negligent in failing to diagnose or treat several injuries sustained during childbirth. Her alleged injuries included tearing in multiple tissues that caused “severe and permanent injuries.”

Wilkins filed suit against CCWC and its alleged owner, Women’s Health Associates, P.C. on June 11, 2009, asserting medical negligence. Her husband also asserted a cause of action for loss of consortium. With her complaint, Wilkins submitted a physician’s opinion, as required by Connecticut General Statutes § 52-190a, written by a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. The doctor’s opinion, according to the letter, was that one of the registered nurse midwives “departed from the accepted standard of care” by failing to diagnose the plaintiff’s injury.