The Virginia Board of Medicine has taken a rare step in reprimanding two Fairfax, Virginia doctors for their failure to provide appropriate care during the delivery of a new born. The Board found that Dr. Evelyn Anna Ruelaz and Dr. Regina Burton failed to adequately assess a pregnant patient with a history of excessive bleeding during childbirth.
The patient, Lee Ann Hershberger, told a medical board panel that she labored alone at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital as her baby’s heart rate slowed and oxygen to him in utero was shut off. The doctor’s negligence resulted in catastrophic and life-long injuries to the baby.
Unfortunately, the doctors could not be sued for their medical negligence due to a law enacted by the Virginia General Assembly over 15 years ago called the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Act. A bad law which has two negative components. First, the law prevents holding the negligent doctors responsible as civil lawsuits against those physicians are barred. Secondly, the “compensation” permitted for a claim accepted into the program is woeful…clearly inadequate to recognize the devastating injuries suffered by the infant!