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Judge: Life, not viability, crux of infant's wrongful death case

When it comes to whether a wrongful death claim can be pursued for the loss of a premature infant, the fact the newborn was born alive rather than its chances of survival is key. That's the determination of a Connecticut Superior Court judge.

By virtue of this recent decision, the mother of the child has a green light to proceed with her suit. She is claiming that a Stamford doctor was responsible for the baby's death because of a medical error committed while the physician was trying to remove an intrauterine device from the woman when she was 22 weeks pregnant.

According to suit documents, the doctor inserted an IUD into the mother. But in April 2011, the woman reported she had not had a menstrual period in five months. She then asked to have the IUD removed.

The suit states that the doctor ruptured the fetal membrane during the procedure. It was later determined that the woman was 20 weeks pregnant. Two weeks after that, the woman went to the hospital with an apparent infection. Labor was induced. The 22-week-old child was delivered but died within a couple of hours.

The allegation made in the suit is that the doctor failed to follow the applicable standard of care by not checking whether the patient was pregnant before trying to remove the IUD. And as a result of medical negligence, the child died.

The defendant had sought to have the case dismissed on the basis of the argument that the infant was not viable at the time of delivery. But the judge said the standard in Connecticut is not viability, but whether an infant is delivered alive. In this case, the child was.

A jury trial of the case is scheduled to begin next month.

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