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Medical Malpractice/ Autopsy

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What is the name of your state? Indiana

I lost my 5 month old back in 1999. After talking to one of the states best children's hospital we were advised to file med. mal. suit against the doctors and hospital involved in the death of our baby. The attorneys file a year later with the state's insurance after a very thorough investigation and help from the children's hospital. The medical review panel came back and 'ruled' 3-0 that the doctor's did not comit malpractice for one simple fact: it was found out by the review panel that our baby had an undected disease of the heart that she could have died from or at least, would have, supposedly, would have died from.

My questions comes to the legality of how this information was obtained. The panel found that the children's hospital's ped. cardiologist performed a 2nd autopsy on the heart (that was done 4 months after our baby was buried).

This is part of the problem, we knew of the initial autopsy of our baby as everyone wanted to know just what happened. We received the report of the initial autopsy stating she went into total distress, or something along those lines. There is NO mention or request to keep ANY part of my baby! NONE! I do NOT recall signing authorizations. Nothing!

Then for the children's hospital to perform another autopsy without my prior authorization? Is that legal too?

I have a hard time accepting that my baby was not buried whole.
I firmly believe that a person must be "all there" for a chance of their next life. OR for their ever-after-life. I am not a donor either.

Does anyone have any insight concerning the original facility performing the first autopsy, if they had the legal right to keep the baby's heart without authorization?

2. Did the children's hospital have the right to obtain that heart and perform a 2nd autopsy w/o my authorization?

Again, we did not know of this 2nd autopsy until 4 years after my baby died. The children's hospital did NOT submit it to us or the other side. Didn't mention it to the attorneys after countless meetings (the children's hospital's ped. cardiologist was goign to be our "expert" witness) but now that doc. is NOT answering calls or letters.



Senior Member
I am truly sorry for the loss of your baby and for the grief process that has been prolonged due to the legal processes that followed the death of your infant.

Regardless of the state of residence, all medical malpractice claims must meet the required elements of foreseeable significant damage(s) as the result of a negligent act(s)--damage(s) that would not have occurred if the negligent act(s) had not occurred.
In the case of your infant, the medical experts opined that the infant's heart was going to fail, without a contributing factor such as negligence, and as a result of the heart's failure, the infant (more likely than not) would have died. Thus, the medical experts ruled out the required element of foreseeable significant damages that would not have occurred except for an act(s) of negligence. Whether the expert panel was correct or incorrect became virtually a moot point; more than one medical exert reached the same conclusion.

As to the concerns you state about autopsy procedures: In all autopsies, certain tissue samples are kept for many years (10 or more). In the event of an impending medmal suit, additional samples are kept as they may be needed in the litigation process.

As to your concerns about the 'next life': I encourage you to speak with a clergy member and discuss your concerns. I encourage you to remember those who died on 9/11 and whose bodies were disintergrated; surely they are not denied a proper 'next life' because the human body was destroyed.

I encourage you to seek grief counseling from a provider with experience in grief resolution for parents of infants. You deserve peace of mind and spirit.

Best wishes,


Senior Member
I am curious as to why the children's hospital told you to seek a med. mal. claim?

Also why was the heart defect not detected in the first autopsy?
Reason why Children's hospital told us to seek the claim:

There is more to the story than my first post, obviously. The child was born with a heart condition, which we did know about before the birth and took the necessary steps to ensure a live birth and to have everything in place for emergency surgeries if needed. After a minor proceedure when baby was days old and after our check-up in June by this ped. cardiologist our baby was given a clean bill of health...was to live an otherwise normal life. (the baby would still be seen by the Cardiologist, etc...baby had a Congenital Heart Block, a pacer was inserted) We lived 2 hours away from the children's hospital (thus the Ped. Cardiologist) and the doctor at home (general prac.) was given all our the baby's medical records and contact info for the cardiologist. Then baby caught a "chest cold" in August which the family doc. at home saw baby then. It cleared up but came back in September, I contacted the fam. doc. and he was "too busy" to see baby but phoned in a script and I did the mist tent at home.
Again, it cleared up but came back in October. Again, I contacted the fam. doc. and was told that he is too busy adn can't see baby.
I happened to be in at the ER getting stitches out of my son's elbow (an incident at his father's house) when the nurse saw the baby and remarked how hard of a time the baby was having breathing. To call the doctor and I told her I had already and she said to call and DEMAND that the baby be seen today! So, I went to the doc. office and waited until he came and finally saw the baby.

With all of this and the baby having a known heart condition at birth (baby was only 5 months old at this time) the children's hospital thought that the ped. cariologist should have been contacted especially when the chest X-rays that was taken when baby was hospitalized in October. The initial X-ray that was taken the day the baby was hospitalized showed the heart to be enlarged....the last X-ray on the last day showed the heart had doubled, pushed the baby's esphogus (sp?) over, etc. The ped. cardiologist was NEVER contacted.

When we went to the area of the Ped. Cardiologist after the baby's death, we stopped in to talk to her. She was never contacted about the death or even when baby was sick. At that time, the children's hospital (with her) did their own investigation.
They obtained all the medical records and autopsy reports. We were contacted to come back down for the findings and they told us then that what happened should not have happened. There were things they could have done with our baby for a CHANCE at survival...the extreme would have been a heart transplant.

In all the times my attornies talked to that ped. cardiologist she never once mention about that 2nd autopsy she performed on the heart and her findings. NOT ONCE!

I hope this answers your questions...


Senior Member
Okay in your first post you said the second autopsy revealed an UNdetected heart problem. Was this a problem other than the heart block?

Also did YOU attempt to calls the ped's. cardiologist? Some parents rely too much on the doctors to do it. I am in no way blaming you, just asking if you called her when your child was sick so much? DId you know of the problems shown in the xray, did anyone speak with you about them?


Senior Member
After reading the second post, I totally understand why the medical expert panel opined for no act of negligence that caused the infant's death.

The second post describes a heart condition that is USUALLY undetected until the 5th or 6th months of life, when unfortunately, morbid symptoms of heart enlargement present.

Chances are, the infant did not have a cold at all, maybe initially but still doubtful. It is likely the infant had signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure, mediastinal shifting, etc. and the mother misdiagnosed the child as having a cold instead of telling the MD that the infant was having trouble breathing. However, it would not have made one bit of difference.

Infants with cardiac enlargement that presents at this stage of growth and development rarely--and I mean rarely--survive more than a month or two.

A heart transplant may seem like a easy miracle, but it is not an easy path nor is it a permanent solution.

The issue about the autopsy is upsetting to this mother and I will refrain from discussing autopsy procedures and standards any further than to say that from this poster's description, I do not see anything done inappropriately. One can not bury potential evidence.

This is truly a sad case and even more sad because it may have had an element or two where care could have been rendered better, and possibly an area of negligence since the other provider indicated such, yet the death was most likely not preventable.

Grief resolution needs to become priority. There are many issues in this situation that require 'healing'.


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