The case of the death of a mother from Dzerzhinsk after the childbirth reached the court

Событие | Пресс центр

15 August 2016

Today a preliminary hearing of the case on Irina Fomina’s death in the Dzerzhinsky Perinatal Center in 2014 will be held at the Dzerzhinsky Court of the Nizhny Novgorod region.

(Denis and Irina Fomina)

As we have previously reported, on 2 October 2014 Denis Fomin from Dzerzhinsk (Nizhny Novgorod region) applied to Nizhny Novgorod office of the Committee Against Torture for legal support – he believed that his wife died shortly after childbirth due to medical malpractices.

Denis explained that his wife’s pregnancy developed normally and nothing foreboded the tragedy. Not least because Dzerzhinsky perinatal center, where his wife was giving birth, meets all modern standards. However, on the morning after the childbirth, when Denis called the doctors on the phone, they informed him that on 30 June 2014 his wife underwent the Cesarian operation. No-one informed him about the complications which developed after that. At noon of the same day when Denis telephoned the maternity clinic he was told that the young mother and the baby were feeling fine and were having rest.

According to Denis, he and his relatives tried to reach Irina on the phone, but in vain – her mobile phone was switched off. Irina’s mother went to the maternity clinic and witnessed her daughter in the state of unconsciousness being taken to the ambulance in order to be transported to the Emergency Care Hospital. After two days Irina was transferred to Nizhny Novgorod Regional Hospital named after Semashko. Doctors of this medical establishment were struggling to save the young woman’s life for almost two weeks, but on 16 July 2014 she died.

Four medical forensic examinations were performed with regard to this case. The first forensic examination made in Kazan established that the doctor’s methods of surgery were far from optimal and that the medical staff failed to compensate for the massive blood loss that developed in this regard. At that time the gynaecologist of Dzerzhinsky Prenatal Center was charged.

At the initiative of the accused the opinion of a specialist from the Ural Medical University was obtained. According to the opinion of the Doctor of Medical Science, Fomina had a number of life-threatening conditions, each of them was hard to predict and control. In his opinion, the lethality of each of these conditions was high and the patient’s death was inevitable.

In order to erase doubts the investigator in charge of the case commissioned a comprehensive forensic medical examination at Nizhny Novgorod regional bureau of forensic medical examination. Based on its results the experts did not find faults of medical assistance in actions of the doctors who performed Caesarean section surgery.

Based on this forensic medical examination head of the Dzerzhinsky Investigative Department Sergey Kokin withdrew from criminal prosecution of the obstetrician-gynaecologist (her actions in the part of conducting the surgery were declared legal), and the actions of unidentified doctors were qualified as failure to assist sick person that resulted in a patient’s death.

Victim Denis Fokin did not agree to this qualification and made an appointment with Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the RF Aleksandr Bastrykin. The latter bitterly criticized the actions of the investigator and the head of the investigative department. The criminal case was immediately exempted from the proceedings at Dzerzhinsk and handed over to the Department for Major Cases of the regional Investigative Directorate.

The fourth forensic medical examination was ordered. Experts came to the conclusion that the death of Irina Fomina resulted from acute blood loss during the Cesarean section. In the experts’ opinion, the doctors of the Dzerzhinsky perinatal center failed to render an adequate medical assistance to Irina Fomina. They wrongly injected an obstetrical medicine, and, in the experts’ opinion, there were no indications for Caesarean section — Irina Fomina could have given birth without it. In addition, in the experts’ opinion, the doctors failed to fully compensate for the blood loss during the post-surgery period and injected some blood plasma which was contraindicative for Irina. These factors, in their totality, led to the patient’s death. Experts considered that if the doctors’ actions had been adequate, Irina could have been saved.

As a result two doctors of the Dzerzhinsky Perinatal Center – birth attendant Evgeniya Balandina and anesthesiologist Ilya Trofimov – were charged with crime under part 2 Article 109 («death by negligence due to deficient performance of professional duties»). After the confirmation of the indictment the case was sent to court. 

In the course of today’s hearing at the Dzerzhinsky City Court defendant Ilya Trofimov asked to dismiss the criminal case due to expire of the period of limitations. Federal judge Dmitry Kaschuk satisfied this motion and dismissed criminal prosecution of Mr.Trofimov.  

Defendant Evgeniya Balandina declined the dismissal of the criminal case, considering herself completely innocent. She asked the court to declare medical forensic expert examination in the case to be inadmissible evidence; however, the judge dismissed her request, having mentioned that this issue may be resolved only in the course of the judicial investigation.

Examination of the Evgenya Balandina criminal case on its merits will start in the Dzerzhinsly City Court on 24 August 2016 at 10 hrs. 

Lawyer of the Committee for Prevention of Torture Dmitry Utoukin, representing the interests of Denis Fomin during the preliminary investigation, commented the on the started court hearing: «The fact that the criminal case with regard to Ilya Trofimov is dismissed does not prevent us from filing a lawsuit against the perinatal center in future, since the case is dismissed based on non-rehabilitating basis, i.e. Trofimov is not acquitted. Evgeniya Balandina’s attempts to challenge the experts’ conclusions are quite understandable – another opinion of a specialist and an expert conclusion, in which the doctors’ guilt is doubted. However, we are convinced that the doctors’ guilt was proved in the course of the investigation. In my opinion, anesthesiologist, who refused to prove his innocence in court today, has indirectly agreed to that, too».

It is worth noting that human rights defenders perform the public investigation together with their colleagues from international human rights defenders group Agora, who have a lot of experience in cases related to medical medical malpractices.