Articles Posted in Health Care Law

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Judith Burton filed a complaint against Dr. Philip Trover, a radiologist, and the Trover Clinic Foundation (TCF), Dr. Trover’s employer, alleging (1) Dr. Trover misread CT scans of her lungs, thereby delaying the diagnosis of her lung cancer, and (2) TCF was vicariously liable for Dr. Trover’s alleged negligence and was negligent itself in credentialing. Burton died before tried, and her Estate revived the complaint with respect to TCF, which impleaded Dr. Trover. A jury entered a verdict for Dr. Trover, and the trial court dismissed all of the Estate’s claims. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by not allowing the Estate to cross-examine Dr. Trover regarding the status of his Kentucky medical license, and the error was not harmless. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its its discretion by excluding the license-status evidence, given the potential for confusing the issues to be tried and the strong likelihood that it would cause unfair prejudice.View "Trover v. Estate of Burton" on Justia Law

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Lisa and Larry Walker filed a medical malpractice action against Dr. C. Lance Love, claiming medical negligence in connection with a thyroidectomy that Dr. Love had performed on Lisa. Three years later, Dr. Love moved for summary judgment because the Walkers had yet to identify an expert who would testify that Dr. Love had deviated from the applicable medical standard of care. The trial court granted the motion due to failure of proof. The Walkers filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate the order, arguing that a surgical expert was not necessary. The trial court denied the motion, but the court of appeals reversed, concluding that the evidence was sufficient to create a legitimate dispute about the need for an expert witness. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) summary judgment was appropriate as to the issue of whether Dr. Love’s performance during or after the surgery met the standard of care because the Walkers failed to timely present any expert testimony regarding the issue; but (2) summary judgment was not appropriate as to whether surgery was the correct response to Lisa’s medical diagnosis. Remanded.View "Love v. Walker" on Justia Law

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After Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant, the General Assembly enacted Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121 and -122, which implemented pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements. Plaintiff subsequently dismissed her original action and filed two successive actions. The second action did not comply with sections 29-26-121 and -122, but the third action complied with the statutes. Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate her second and third actions. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff’s second action should be dismissed for failure to comply with the notice and certificate of good faith requirements and that her third action should be dismissed based on the doctrine of prior suit pending. The trial court denied the motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for extraordinary appeal. During the pendency of the appeal, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her second action. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that Plaintiff’s third complaint was timely filed because Plaintiff properly provided pre-suit notice of her claim prior to filing her third action and was entitled to a 120-day extension in which to refile her complaint. Remanded.View "Cannon ex rel. Good v. Reddy" on Justia Law

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Johanna Hicks died from an accidental overdose of her medications. Hicks’ estate filed suit against the doctor who treated Hicks for severe chronic pain for negligently causing Hicks’ death and filed suit against the doctor’s employer, claiming it should be held vicariously liable for the doctor’s negligence. A jury found that the doctor was not negligent in his treatment of Johanna and returned a defense verdict. On appeal, the estate argued that the district court erred by permitting the doctor and his codefendant to introduce the testimony of two expert witnesses on the doctor’s adherence to the appropriate standard of care for practitioners of pain medicine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the estate failed to preserve for appellate review the issue regarding the admissibility of the testimony of the two standard of care experts.View "Hicks v. Zondag" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Doctor and Doctor’s employer (Employer), alleging that Doctor touched her inappropriately and made sexually charged comments during her office visits. Plaintiff settled with Doctor, and the case proceeded against Employer. The district court held that Plaintiff’s claims against Employer were barred by Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3403(h), which past decisions of the Supreme Court interpreted to cover a covered health care provider’s vicarious liability and any other responsibility, including independent or direct liability, for claims caused by the professional services of another health care provider. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the lower courts erred in relying on the cases interpreting the statute because the cases were wrongly decided, were distinguishable, or had been effectively overruled. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 40-3403(h) barred Employer’s liability, and the district court did not err in granting summary judgment.View "Cady v. Schroll" on Justia Law

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When Dr. David Roberts performed amniocentesis on Plaintiff’s mother, who was pregnant with Plaintiff, bleeding occurred. Complications arose from the unsuccessful amniocentesis, and Plaintiff was born with damaged kidneys and cerebral palsy. Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment against Dr. Roberts and other defendants for medical malpractice. Plaintiff asserted that her claim was not covered by Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Act because she was not a “patient” as defined by the Act where she was not a “natural person” at the time of the treatment, and therefore, her claim was not subject to the Act’s statutory cap on damages. The jury returned a $7 million verdict in Plaintiff’s favor. The trial court reduced the verdict, holding that the cap applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Virginia’s statutory cap on damages applied to Plaintiff’s cause of action because Plaintiff became a “patient” when she was born alive, and therefore, her claim fell within the Act. View "Simpson v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was being treated at a private medical facility, a nurse employed by the clinic committed an unauthorized disclosure of Plaintiff’s confidential health information. Plaintiff filed this action in federal court against Defendants, various affiliated entities that allegedly owned or otherwise controlled the clinic. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all eight of Plaintiff’s claims. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of all but one of Plaintiff’s causes of action, reserving decision on Plaintiff’s claim of breach of fiduciary duty. In a separate opinion, the Second Circuit found the nurse’s actions were not foreseeable to Defendants nor taken within the scope of her employment. The court, however, certified a question to the New York Court of Appeals regarding Defendants’ liability where respondeat superior liability is absent. The Court of Appeals answered that, under New York law, the common law right of action for breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality for the unauthorized disclosure of medical information may not run directly against medical corporations when the employee responsible for the breach acts outside the scope of her employment. View "Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice action against the Campbell County Memorial Hospital under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act (Act), alleging that Amanda Phillips, a certified nurse anesthetist for Northern Plains Anesthesia Associates, which provided anesthesia services for the hospital, acted as an employee or agent of the hospital, making the hospital vicariously liable for Phillips’ alleged negligence. The hospital filed a motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that a government hospital could not be vicariously liable for acts of non-employees or independent contractors under the doctrine of ostensible agency. The district court denied the motion based on Sharsmith v. Hill. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in its interpretation of Sharsmith and that Sharsmith did not create an implied waiver of sovereign immunity under the Act. View "Campbell County Memorial Hosp. v. Pfeifle" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Leslie Milliun's conservator, filed a negligence suit against Defendant hospital, alleging that, while in Defendant's care, Leslie suffered severe respiratory dysfunction which resulted in Leslie's severe brain injury. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of Defendant because Plaintiff failed to offer the requisite expert testimony to create an issue of material fact regarding Defendant's alleged negligence as the proximate cause of Leslie's injuries. The appellate court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in (1) refusing to admit certain medical records of Leslie's treating physicians as expert opinion on causation, and (2) concluding that its order granting Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of a commission so Leslie's out-of-state treating physicians could be deposed should be withdrawn because the physicians could not be compelled to offer expert opinion on causation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appellate court properly determined that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to admit certain statements contained within the medical records to establish a causal connection between Leslie's injuries and the alleged negligence.View "Milliun v. New Milford Hosp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant, a physician. Plaintiff's original complaint was filed prior to the effective date of the pre-suit notice requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his original action. Plaintiff subsequently filed his action after the effective date of section 29-26-121. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Plaintiff's second action was barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff responded that (1) his pre-suit notice commenced his new action prior to the expiration of the one-year saving statute; and (2) alternatively, section 29-26-121 extended the saving statute by 120 days. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's action was commenced by the filing of his second health care liability complaint rather than by providing pre-suit notice; and (2) a plaintiff who files his initial action prior to the effective date of section 29-26-121 dismisses his original action, properly provides pre-suit notice, and refiles his action after the effective date of section 29-26-121 is entitled to the 120-day extension.View "Rajvongs v. Wright" on Justia Law