$2 million settlement reached in lawsuit against ob-gyn office in Norwich
A $2 million settlement has been reached in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by a Salem couple after their second daughter was born with cystic fibrosis. The mother said she accepted genetic testing at her obstetrician-gynecologist’s office, but the testing was never performed.
The mother, Elizabeth Trotter, who was pregnant with her first child in 2016 and a patient at OB-GYN Services in Norwich, said in a phone interview this week that she had wanted to be tested for everything because she did not know her medical history. She said she accepted genetic testing and thought the testing was performed.
She said she was told at 12 weeks that her blood work came back normal, so she assumed that meant everything was fine. She gave birth in January 2017 to a healthy baby girl, Paige.
When she was pregnant with her second daughter, Madelyn, now 2, she said she experienced a lot of complications, including preeclampsia and high blood pressure, and her daughter was born prematurely and spent over a month in the neonatal intensive care unit. Elizabeth, now 42, and her husband, Erik, now 47, found out during the newborn screen that Madelyn was positive for cystic fibrosis.
“The Trotters returned to OB GYN Services to ask how their daughter could have been born with this disease when the Cystic Fibrosis test performed on Beth in 2016 had been negative,” according to The Reardon Law Firm, which represented the Trotters. “The doctor consulted the records and determined that the test had never been ordered by the practice and had never been performed, despite being requested by Beth and acknowledged by the physician she spoke with.”
Trotter said she got pregnant for the second time, without knowing that she was a carrier for cystic fibrosis and without being able to prepare.
“Unfortunately, it took away our ability to make an educated choice for ourselves, and I truly feel that women should have the choice to figure out what is best for them and their family,” Trotter said.
Her doctor, David Kalla, declined to comment. A lawyer representing OB-GYN Services was out of the office until Monday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trotter said the settlement will help with expensive medical bills for her daughter's care. Cystic fibrosis "is a complex, chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system," according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“The money that we did get from the settlement could be life-changing for her,” she said. “It could help her a lot with her care.”
Trotter said she hopes the lawsuit brings more awareness to genetic testing and changes the standards of care for women. She added that she is interested in potentially pursuing legislation that will empower women and help them get genetic testing before they are pregnant.
Attorney Kelly Reardon, who settled the case for the maximum amount of insurance coverage available, said she believes what happened is that the practice had a relatively new electronic medical record software system and it was difficult to gain access to laboratory results through the software.
“We think the fact that the test was never ordered was overlooked due to the software issue,” she added.
She commended the Trotters for their courage and Dr. Kalla and the medical providers for taking the steps necessary to make sure the practice is more careful going forward about these types of errors. She said Dr. Kalla met with the family over Zoom to go over the changes.
“I feel like it was an important case because it really allowed a family who went through a horrible situation to not only get financial compensation, which is important of course, but to also get some answers and have a conversation with the physician involved about the steps that his practice is taking to make sure that this type of scenario doesn’t happen again,” Reardon said.