Hospital has duty of care to unborn

GUELPH – The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled that Guelph General Hospital did owe a duty of care to an unborn child whose parents claim negligence during delivery that caused brain damage. Kevin Liebig was born in 2001 with hypoxic ischemic encyphalopathy, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation. The family argues that Susan Liebig was given excessive amounts of a drug to speed up labour and was not properly monitored. Justice Wolfram Tausendfreund rejected arguments from seven members of the obstetrical staff that they had no obligation to the child. “The duty to both mother and fetus in the maternal-fetal scenario,” he wrote in his decision, “has long been established in Canadian jurisprudence.” The negligence case will be heard in September 2010; this decision only addressed the issue of the duty of care.

Gay man sues blood collection service

TORONTO – Kyle Freeman, a 36-year-old homosexual from Thornhill, Ont., is suing Canadian Blood Services for the right to donate blood. He is seeking $250,000 in damages after the CBS filed a lawsuit accusing Freeman of negligent misrepresentation for lying on its screening forms. The service does not permit men who have engaged in homosexual activity since 1977 to donate blood and it poses the question about sexual history on its donor forms. Freeman says the questions violate his Charter equality rights. CBS lawyer Sally Gomery told the Ontario Superior Court that donors have “a legal duty to tell the truth when asked” about their sexual history. Freeman donated 18 times between 1990 and 2002 although the suit focuses on four instances between 1998 and 2002. Freeman said he “self-assessed” his risk factors and health, but later screening found that he had syphilis and gonorrhea. Gomery said the case demonstrates the need for stringent rules and the hazards of relying on self-assessments.

New Brusnswick studies newborn rights

FREDRICTON – Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock is studying the issue of protecting unborn babies from at-risk mothers after Bernard Richard, the province’s Child and Youth Advocate, called for legislation to give the courts the right to intercede to protect children from serious harm or death. The Child Death Review Committee has also recommended the ministry develop an intervention policy to be used by social workers in cases where they believe the mother is a threat to her unborn child. The New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women said they opposed the government becoming “a kind of police of pregnancy.” Wendy Johnston, policy and liaison officer for the council, said the answer was more family planning education and access to contraception. In 1997, in Winnipeg Child and Family Services v. D.F.G., the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that pregnant addicts could not be required to undergo treatment even if their behaviours threatened the unborn child.