Health Law

Suit accuses hospital of forcing woman to have a C-section


A malpractice suit accuses doctors at Staten Island University Hospital of conducting a cesarean section despite a pregnant woman’s refusal.

The suit by Rinat Dray of Brooklyn alleges that the doctors “improperly substitute[ed] their judgment for that of the mother,” who wanted a natural birth for her third son, Yosef, the New York Times reports. The suit also accused the physicians of “pressuring and threatening” Dray during the July 2011 delivery.

Dray had cesarean sections for her first two births, and she didn’t want one for the third child, the Times says. Dray told the Times in an interview that one doctor told her the baby was at risk and her uterus would rupture if she didn’t have a C-section. The operation was performed after Dray tried to deliver vaginally for several hours. Dray’s bladder was cut during the surgery, according to the lawsuit.

The story cites a handwritten note written by Dr. James J. Ducey, the director of maternal and fetal medicine. “I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section,” the note says. Ducey added that the woman’s doctor and the hospital’s lawyer agreed. Ducey wrote in the hospital record that the fetus was at risk for serious harm without the operation.

According to the Times, the case “raises issues about the rights of pregnant women to control their own bodies, even if that might compromise the life of a fetus.”

A spokesman for the hospital, Christian Preston, didn’t comment on the suit when contacted by the Times. But Preston said only 22 percent of deliveries were by C-section at the hospital, below the state average of 34 percent. Ducey’s lawyer didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

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