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The Rights of Pregnant Patients: Carder Case Brings Bold Policy Initiatives

Carder Case Brings Bold Policy Initiatives

HealthSpan, Volume 8, Number 5, 1991

By Terry E. Thornton and Lynn Paltrow

When George Washington University Medical Center ("GWUMC") recently developed and adopted groundbreaking policies concerning the rights of pregnant patients to make health care decisions without court intervention, it not only reversed its position on the appropriateness of court-ordered medical care,' but resolved three years of daunting litigation against it for having subjected 27-year-old Angela Carder to a life threatening court-ordered Caesarean section in June 1987.1

Along the way, the Angela Carder case resulted in the only appellate decision in the country to address, on a fully developed legal record, a hospital's duty to its pregnant patients and the development of model hospital policies which protect the interests of both patient and institution alike.