This is a little lengthy, but I think everyone will appreciate the
When I was first in private practice (in Southwest Louisiana) a mother
presented her 2 month old daughter to my office, for the first time,
with a chief complaint of turning blue. I admitted her to the local
PICU and proceeded with an exhaustive workup, observation, etc. . . .
All of which was normal. After discharge the mother brought the patient
into the office on several more occasions, each time demanding to see a
different specialist (I'm a general pediatrician). She ultimately ended
up seeing a neonatologist, peds. cardiologist, peds. neurologist, and
peds. pulmonologist. After each specialist visit I received a nice
letter from the consultant reassuring me that the mother had been
reassured that this patient was fine.
Over the course of the next year the visits became more sporadic, then
stopped. One day a few years later, I received a subpoena for a
deposition regarding this patient's care. The attorney represented a
homeowner's insurance company, against which the parents had filed suit.
As fate would have it, the mother brought the child into the office a
few days before the scheduled deposition. I inquired as to why I was
being deposed by an attorney representing a homeowner's insurance
Are you ready for the reply? . . . .
She told me that one night, approximately one month before she was due
to deliver this baby, she and her husband drove into the driveway at
their home. They lived in the country on property adjacent to the
husband's uncle's property. The husband's uncle raised cows. As they
drove up, at dusk, one of the cows had broken through the fence from the
husband's uncle's property to their property and had jumped onto the
hood of the couple's car, frightening the couple. 8 HOURS LATER, she
went into "preterm labor".
THE COUPLE HAD FILED SUIT AGAINST THE HUSBAND'S UNCLE CONTENDING THAT
THE UNCLE WAS LIABLE FOR THE INFANTS "PREMATURE BIRTH". THE HUSBAND'S
UNCLE HAD FILED THE CLAIM UNDER HIS HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE POLICY.
Review of the newborn record from the hospital revealed that the infant
was delivered uneventfully, deemed to be of term gestation and was
discharged from the well baby nursery 48 hours after delivery. All the
visits were in an effort to create evidence to support the suit!
I'm not sure if there's a moral to this story, but I'd gladly entertain
suggestions for one!
Bryan G. Sibley, MD, FAAP
Medical Director and Hospitalist
Beacon Children's Specialty Hospital
2929 Woodland Park Drive
Houston, TX 77082
281-293-8117 - fax
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