Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion Summaries

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Dahlia McKinney, M.D., a defendant in the wrongful-death/medical negligence action, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Jefferson Circuit Court to vacate an order compelling Dr. McKinney, ostensibly under Alabama's discovery rules, to alter the contents of a registered death certificate she prepared in connection with the death of Paydro White ("Paydro"). On December 31, 2013, Paydro sought medical treatment at the emergency department of Princeton Baptist Medical Center where he was diagnosed with possible pneumonia; he was discharged on that same date. The following afternoon, Paydro returned to the emergency department seeking follow-up care; he was formally admitted for treatment by the emergency physician on duty at that time. Later that evening, after Dr. McKinney began her evening shift, Paydro become unresponsive. Although he was initially successfully resuscitated, Paydro later died in the early morning hours of January 2, 2014. Dr. McKinney, who completed and signed Paydro's death certificate, identified the contributing causes of Paydro's death as "Pulseless electrical activity" due to "Acute Myocardial Infarction." Subsequent postmortem examinations and the autopsy of Paydro's body revealed that "the most likely cause of ... death [was] pulmonary Thromboembolism" -- a final diagnosis with which Dr. McKinney's later deposition testimony indicated she agreed. Dorothy White ("Dorothy"), Paydro's mother, was the personal representative of Paydro's estate. In that capacity, she sued numerous defendants allegedly connected with Paydro's medical treatment, including Dr. McKinney, largely arguing Paydro's death had been caused by the defendants' purported failure to timely diagnose and treat the pulmonary thromboembolism that ultimately caused Paydro's death. Dr. McKinney, who had provided no medical treatment to Paydro other than in connection with emergency resuscitation attempts, informally requested her voluntary dismissal as a defendant. In an email communication to Dr. McKinney's counsel, the estate's counsel indicated that a decision on that request would be aided by Dr. McKinney's voluntary amendment of the original cause of death indicated on Paydro's death certificate to identify his cause of death as a pulmonary thromboembolism. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court exceeded its discretion in compelling Dr. McKinney to amend the death certificate. Dr. McKinney therefore demonstrated a clear legal right to her requested relief. The trial court was ordered to vacate its order compelling Dr. McKinney to amend the cause of death on Paydro's death certificate. View "Ex parte Dahlia McKinney, M.D." on Justia Law

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In 2019 a woman sued her former husband’s medical provider, alleging that from 2003 to 2010 the provider negligently prescribed the husband opioid medications, leading to his addiction, damage to the couple’s business and marital estate, the couple’s divorce in 2011, and ultimately the husband's death in 2017. The superior court ruled the claims were barred by the statute of limitations and rejected the woman’s argument that the provider should have been estopped from relying on a limitations defense. Because the undisputed evidence shows that by 2010 the woman had knowledge of her alleged injuries, the provider’s alleged role in causing those injuries, and the provider’s alleged negligence, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded that the claims accrued at that time and were no longer timely when filed in 2019. And because the record did not show that the woman’s failure to timely file her claims stemmed from reasonable reliance on fraudulent conduct by the provider, the Supreme Court concluded that equitable estoppel did not apply. View "Park v. Spayd" on Justia Law

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In 2009, six-month-old Trystan received vaccines, including DTaP-HepB-IPV. Hours later, Trystan developed a fever and was in pain; he developed a hot lump on his thigh. Trystan’s mother took him to urgent care, where he was diagnosed with a “common cold.” Trystan’s arm contortions continued. At his one-year exam, Trystan could not stand, crawl, grasp, hold his head up while sitting, or attempt to move his lower extremities. Trystan received additional vaccinations. His arm contortions returned. Trystan had muscle spasms, developmental delays, seizures, dystonia, and other neurologic issues. In 2014, Trystan was diagnosed with Leigh’s syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that often presents in the first year of life, is characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities, and typically results in death. Genetic testing showed that Trystan has two associated disease-causing mutations.His parents sought compensation under the Vaccine Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa–1. The Claims Court upheld determinations that Trystan did not experience neurologic deterioration until many weeks after his 2009 vaccination and that Trystan’s genetic mutations solely caused his Leigh’s syndrome. The Federal Circuit reversed. Because the contortions began within two weeks of his vaccinations, Trystan has shown a logical chain of cause and effect between his vaccination and his neurodegeneration, satisfying his burden. He is entitled to compensation unless the Secretary establishes the injury was due to factors unrelated to the vaccine. There is no evidence that Trystan’s mutations would have resulted in the same progression and severity of his Leigh’s syndrome absent the vaccine. View "T.S. v. Secretary of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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On November 21, 2017, Richard Bush presented to Saint Bernard Parish Hospital for depression and suicidal ideations. At the hospital, Dr. Miguel Aguilera treated and discharged him. Bush attempted re-admittance with the same complaints, but was refused re-admittance. Thereafter, Bush attempted suicide in the hospital bathroom. He was found alive and transported to University Hospital in New Orleans for treatment; however, he succumbed to his injuries from the suicide attempt and died on November 30, 2017. In November 2018, his wife, Patricia Bush, on behalf of herself, her daughters, Madalyn and Ashley Bush, and on behalf of the decedent, Richard Bush, filed a formal pro se complaint with the Patient Compensation Fund (“PCF”) to convene a medical review panel (“MRP”), naming Saint Bernard Parish Hospital and Dr. Aguilera for malpractice relating to Richard Bush's death. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted this writ application in order to determine: (1) whether contra non valentem interrupted prescription; and (2) whether the court of appeal erred in relying on documents that were not entered as evidence and were not part of the record. The Court found that, while contra non valentem may interrupt prescription in a wrongful death claim in certain instances, it did not interrupt prescription in this case due to the fact that the court of appeal incorrectly considered documents that were not in evidence. The Court reversed the court of appeal’s ruling in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Medical Review Panel for the Claim of Richard Bush" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court affirming a verdict for the family of a teenager who committed suicide after seeking treatment for depression from her pediatric healthcare providers, holding that the testimony did not establish the necessary but-for causation required by precedent.The expert testimony at trial established negligence on the part of the teen's medical providers but did not establish that, but for the negligence, the teen would not have committed suicide. Plaintiffs sued their daughter's providers for negligence and gross negligence. The jury found that certain providers were liable, and the trial court awarded $1.285 million to Plaintiffs. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no evidence that the providers' care proximately caused the teen's suicide. View "Pediatrics Cool Care v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the order of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's claims with prejudice and remanding the case to the trial court to give the parties an opportunity to gather and present evidence on a motion for summary judgment, holding that the trial court was not required to convert the motion to dismiss under N.C. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) to a motion for summary judgment.Plaintiff brought this action after being diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer, arguing that Defendant swere negligent in failing to diagnose Plaintiff with cancer. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that the action was barred by the three-year statute of limitations and four-year statute of repose in N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-15(c). The trial court dismissed the claims with prejudice. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court should have converted the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred by ruling that the trial court considered matters outside the pleading, thus converting the motion to a motion for summary judgment. View "Blue v. Bhiro" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that a timely-served expert report demonstrated a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of the Texas Medical Liability Act.Plaintiffs brought this case alleging that negligent perinatal care during labor and delivery caused their infant's brain damage and other serious health conditions. On the infant's behalf, Plaintiffs sued their treating physician and other healthcare providers and served expert reports on Defendants, including a report by Dr. James Balducci, an obstetrician. Plaintiff's treating physician filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court denied. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the claims against the treating physician with prejudice on the grounds that Dr. Balducci's report was insufficient to support Plaintiffs' healthcare liability claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the expert report satisfied the "fair summary" standard in Tex. Civ. Proc. & Rem. Code 74.351(l), (r)(6). View "E.D. v Texas Health Care, PLLC" on Justia Law

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After suffering a retroperitoneal bleed following a diagnostic cardiac catheterization, Patient's estate ("Plaintiff") filed a medical malpractice wrongful death claim against various medical providers ("Defendants"). The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants, finding that Plaintiff failed to prove causation. More specifically, the court held that West Virginia Code Sec. 55-7B-3(b) requires a plaintiff to prove "that following the accepted standard of care would have resulted in a greater than twenty-five percent chance that the patient . . . would have survived."The Fourth Circuit reversed. The district court's interpretation of Sec. 55-7B-3(b) to require a 25% change in outcome between the chance of survival had the standard of care been followed and the chance of survival experienced due to the breach of the standard of care was in error. The court held that the correct standard requires Plaintiff to establish a greater than twenty-five percent chance of survival had Defendants followed the applicable standard of care. The court noted that, although the Supreme Court of West Virginia has not addressed this particular statute, a plain reading of the statutory language does not a 25% change in outcome. View "Janet Graham v. Sunil Dhar" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment against Plaintiffs in this medical malpractice suit brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), see 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, holding that summary judgment was inappropriate.Noel Martinez-Marrero died while being treated at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His four children brought suit against the United States in the District of Puerto Rico pursuant to the FTCA, alleging medical negligence. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants after excluding the expert testimony of Dr. Ortiz Feliciano. The First Circuit reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court erred in excluding Dr. Feliciano's expert testimony pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 702 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 26. View "Martinez v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment against Eulalia Lopez-Ramirez (Lopez) in the medical malpractice suit that she and her daughter brought under Puerto Rico law, holding that Plaintiffs' allegations of error were unavailing.Plaintiffs brought this suit seeking damages in connection with the brain surgery that was performed on Lopez to alleviate her facial spasms. After the surgery, Lopez developed full right facial paralysis. Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants' negligence in providing medical care to Lopez made them liable under Puerto Rico Laws title 31, Section 5141 and 5142. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' allegations of error were unavailing. View "Lopez-Ramirez v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc." on Justia Law