Justia Medical Malpractice Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Health Law
McLaughlin v. Nahata, et al.
During their employment with Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (DCI), the Doctors maintained staff privileges and worked at Washington Hospital. In 2013, Alyssa McLaughlin was admitted to the Hospital and received treatment from, among other medical staff, the Doctors, Kathryn Simons, M.D., Anne F. Josiah, M.D., Thomas Pirosko, D.O., and Ashely Berkley, D.O. At some point during or after that treatment, McLaughlin sustained severe and permanent neurological injuries. Attributing those injuries to negligence in her treatment, McLaughlin and her husband, William McLaughlin (collectively, the McLaughlins), initiated an action against the Doctors, the Hospital, and the other physicians noted above who were responsible for her care. The issue this case presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on whether, as a matter of law, the Hospital could seek contribution and/or indemnity from DCI for negligence committed by DCI’s employees (the Doctors). The trial and superior courts both concluded that, although traditional principles of contribution and indemnity did not apply cleanly these particular circumstances, equitable principles of law permitted the Hospital to seek both contribution and indemnity from DCI. As a result, the trial court denied DCI’s motion for summary relief, and the superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court was unanimous in finding that, if the Hospital and DCI were determined to be vicariously liable for the negligence of the Doctors, the law permitted the Hospital to seek contribution from DCI. The Court was evenly divided on the question of whether the Hospital could also seek indemnification from DCI. Given the decision on contribution and inability to reach a decision on indemnity, the superior court was affirmed on those questions. View "McLaughlin v. Nahata, et al." on Justia Law
Ottgen v. Katranji
Candi Ottgen and her husband brought a medical malpractice action against Abdalmaijid Katranji, M.D., and others, alleging that Katranji had negligently performed two thumb surgeries on her, first on May 1, 2017, the second July 23, 2017. Plaintiffs filed their action on April 11, 2019, focusing their complaint on the first surgery, but they did not attach an affidavit of merit (AOM) to the complaint as required by MCL 600.2912d(1). On May 9, 2019, defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Scarsella v. Pollak, 461 Mich 547 (2000), which held that filing a medical malpractice complaint without an AOM was ineffective to commence the action and thereby toll the two-year statutory limitations period. Plaintiffs responded by filing an amended complaint with an AOM that had purportedly been executed on January 30, 2019, but was not attached to the original complaint because of a clerical error. Plaintiffs also separately requested permission to make the late filing and contended that it related back to the original complaint. The trial court held that Scarsella was inapplicable because the AOM was completed when the original complaint was filed and its omission from the filing was inadvertent. The trial court also permitted plaintiffs to file their late AOM and allowed it to relate back to the April 2019 complaint. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that Scarsella applied and, accordingly, that plaintiffs’ complaint was untimely with regard to the first surgery, rendering the April 2019 complaint ineffective and leaving nothing for the subsequently filed May 13, 2019 amended complaint to relate back to. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded Scarsella was erroneously decided and failed to survive a stare decisis analysis, and it was therefore overruled. "Filing an AOM under MCL 600.2912d(1) is not required to commence a medical malpractice action and toll the statutory limitations period. Instead, the normal tolling rules apply to medical malpractice actions, and tolling occurs upon the filing of a timely served complaint. A failure to comply with MCL 600.2912d(1) can still be a basis for dismissal of a case; however, the dismissal cannot be based on statute-of-limitations grounds." Because the courts below did not consider the nature of dismissals for violations of MCL 600.2912d(1), the case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Ottgen v. Katranji" on Justia Law
Martineau v. McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center
In 2014, decedent Aaron Martineau, age 28, arrived at the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital emergency room, complaining of sudden onset chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. He was seen by a physician assistant and by a physician, defendant Gary Josephsen, M.D.; both worked for defendant Doctor’s Emergency Room Corporation, P.C. (collectively, the ER defendants). Defendants did not adequately review the x-ray or refer decedent for further imaging or other tests to rule out or confirm the presence of serious cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary conditions. Instead, they diagnosed him with noncardiac chest pain and discharged him from the hospital. Approximately 24 hours after being discharged, decedent died from an aortic dissection in his heart. In this wrongful death action, two issues were presented for the Oregon Supreme Court's review: (1) whether the trial court erred when it instructed the jury that physicians “are not negligent merely because their efforts were unsuccessful” and that a physician “does not guarantee a good result by undertaking to perform a service;” and (2) whether plaintiff had alleged a lost chance claim under Oregon’s survival statute, ORS 30.075, that was separately cognizable from her wrongful death claim under ORS 30.020. The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s lost chance claim before trial. Later, when submitting the wrongful death claim to the jury at the close of trial, the court included the challenged instruction—which was taken from Uniform Civil Jury Instruction (UCJI) 44.03 at defendants’ request—in its instructions to the jury. After the jury returned a verdict in defendants’ favor, plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding the trial court had erred in dismissing plaintiff’s lost chance claim and by including UCJI 44.03 in the jury instructions. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded plaintiff did not allege a lost chance claim that was cognizable under Oregon law, and, further, the trial court did not err when it included UCJI 44.03 in the jury instructions. The Court therefore reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the trial court. View "Martineau v. McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center" on Justia Law
Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C.
Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C. (collectively "the Sportsmed defendants"), were defendants in an action brought by their patient, Malik Woodard. Woodard alleged that, against his wishes, Dr. Chin obtained records of Woodard's prior psychological treatment. The Sportsmed defendants sought mandamus relief from: (1) the circuit court's order denying their motion to change venue based on the Alabama Medical Liability Act and the Alabama Medical Liability Act of 1987 (collectively "AMLA"); and (2) the court's order prohibiting them from using the psychological records (and certain related documents) in the case and requiring them to return or destroy those records and documents ("the protective order"). As to the venue order, the Alabama Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not argue that the complaint did not support an inference that Dr. Chin had no medical reason for obtaining the psychological records. As to the protective order, the Supreme Court denied the petition because the Sportsmed defendants did not demonstrate that the order was subject to mandamus review. View "Ex parte Victor Chin, M.D., and Sportsmed Orthopedic Specialists, P.C." on Justia Law
Banuelos v. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Banuelos claimed that she was unlawfully charged per-page fees for copies of her UW Hospitals medical records which were provided in an electronic format. UW Hospitals argued that section 146.83(3f) is silent as to fees for electronic copies of patient healthcare records and does not prohibit a healthcare provider from charging fees for providing such copies. Banuelos argued that because fees for electronic copies are not enumerated in the statutory list of permissible fees that a healthcare provider may charge, the fees charged here are unlawful under state law. The court of appeals agreed with Banuelos and determined that Wis. Stat. 146.83(3f) does not permit a healthcare provider to charge fees for providing copies of patient healthcare records in an electronic format.The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed. Although section 146.83(3f) provides for the imposition of fees for copies of medical records in certain formats, it does not permit healthcare providers to charge fees for patient records in an electronic format. Although Wisconsin statutes previously permitted a charge for the provision of electronic copies of patient health care records, that language has been repealed. View "Banuelos v. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority" on Justia Law
Kirchmeyer v. Helios Psychiatry Inc.
A patient filed a complaint concerning Dr. Dore, a Board-certified psychiatrist. The Board discovered suspected irregularities in Dore's prescription of controlled substances. Dore declined to answer questions. The Board served her with an investigative subpoena seeking medical records supporting the prescription of the controlled substances to a family member and with investigative interrogatories requesting information about the family member's treatment and employment with Dore. Dore refused to produce the records and objected to the interrogatories. Her family member objected to the subpoena.The Board sought an order compelling compliance and provided reports from the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database. A Board-certified psychiatrist opined it was necessary to obtain the family member’s medical records to evaluate whether Dore complied with the standard of care, noting an AMA ethics opinion counseling physicians against treating family members except in emergencies. Dore's expert, a psychiatrist and licensed California attorney, disagreed with the assertion that prescribing controlled substances to family members presumptively violates the standard of care. The family member explained his reason for seeking treatment from Dore, identifying the medications she prescribed, and describing the treatment she provided.The court of appeal affirmed the trial court, which ordered compliance, impliedly concluding the Board established good cause to justify the production of the family member’s private medical information. The Board had a compelling interest in investigating Dore’s allegedly improper conduct. View "Kirchmeyer v. Helios Psychiatry Inc." on Justia Law
Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC
This case arose from a medical malpractice action involving a partial foot amputation and sentinel lymph node biopsy (“SLNB”). John Beebe was diagnosed with aggressive melanoma on his foot. After his diagnosis, oncology specialists recommended a forefoot amputation and a SLNB. The SLNB involved the removal of a lymph node near John’s stomach to assist the oncologist with staging the cancer. Both procedures were performed at North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC, d/b/a Northwest Specialty Hospital (“NWSH”), after which the removed forefoot was placed into a pathology specimen bag and the lymph node was placed in a specimen cup. Purportedly, both specimens were subsequently placed in a second sealed bag, which was then placed in a locked drop box at NWSH for pickup by Incyte Pathology, Inc. Two days after the surgeries, NWSH received notice from Incyte that the lymph node was missing. NWSH subsequently searched the operating rooms, refrigerators, and the dumpster, but did not find the missing specimen. The Beebes filed a complaint against NWSH for medical malpractice and negligence and against Incyte for simple negligence. They later amended their complaint to add Cheryl’s claim for loss of consortium. The Beebes appealed the jury verdict in favor of NWSH, arguing the district court erred when it granted summary judgment for NWSH and dismissed Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim prior to trial. The Idaho Supree Court vacated the jury verdict because the district court gave a “but for” jury instruction on the issue of proximate cause instead of a “substantial factor” instruction. Further, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the district court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of Cheryl’s loss of consortium claim. View "Beebe v. North Idaho Day Surgery, LLC" on Justia Law
Baptist Health v. Sourinphoumy
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Defendants Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock and Diamond Risk Insurance, LLC (collectively, Baptist) of the order of the circuit court denying Baptist's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's medical malpractice complaint, holding that the circuit court's order was not a final, appealable order.Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging that, for almost three months in 2021, he was a patient at Baptist fighting COVID-19 and was subjected to negligent care and treatment. Baptist filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that it was immune from suit pursuant to Executive Order 20-52, which established that healthcare providers were immune from liability while treating patients with COVID-19. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court denied Defendants' subsequent appeal, holding this Court lacked jurisdiction because the immunity at issue was one of liability rather than immunity from suit. View "Baptist Health v. Sourinphoumy" on Justia Law
McGovern v. BHC Fremont Hospital, Inc.
In November 2015, while hospitalized at Fremont, an acute psychiatric facility, McGovern was assaulted by another patient. In March 2016, McGovern’s attorney sent Fremont a letter, requesting that Fremont preserve evidence, and stating that counsel would be gathering more information and would present Fremont’s insurance carrier with a pre-litigation demand. It requested that Fremont place its carrier on notice. On October 27, 2016, McGovern’s counsel sent Fremont a Notice of Intent to Commence Action For Medical Negligence Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 364, which requires that a plaintiff give a healthcare provider 90 days’ notice before commencing an action for professional negligence. Subsection (d) tolls the limitations period for 90 days if the notice is served on the defendant within the last 90 days of the applicable statute of limitations. which expired on November 7, 2016, in McGovern's case.McGovern filed suit on January 20, 2017. The trial court granted Fremont summary adjudication, finding that the March letter constituted a section 364 notice. so the complaint was not timely filed, and McGovern failed to establish a triable issue of fact as to neglect under Welfare & Institutions Code 15610.57. The court of appeal reversed. The March letter lacked the requisite elements for section 364 compliance and was not a notice of intent. McGovern’s professional negligence causes of action are not time-barred, The court also reversed an order quashing a subpoena for the assailant’s mental health records. View "McGovern v. BHC Fremont Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law
Knolmayer, et al. v. McCollum
This case presented the questions of whether and how Alaska Statute 09.55.548(b) applied when the claimant’s losses were compensated by an employer’s self-funded health benefit plan governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Alaska Supreme Court concluded that an ERISA plan did not fall within the statute’s “federal program” exception. Therefore AS 09.55.548(b) required a claimant’s damages award to be reduced by the amount of compensation received from an ERISA plan. But the Supreme Court also concluded that the distinction the statute draws between different types of medical malpractice claimants was not fairly and substantially related to the statute’s purpose of ensuring claimants do not receive a double recovery — an award of damages predicated on losses that were already compensated by a collateral source. "Because insurance contracts commonly require the insured to repay the insurer using the proceeds of any tort recovery, claimants with health insurance are scarcely more likely to receive a double recovery than other malpractice claimants. The statute therefore violates the equal protection guarantee of the Alaska Constitution." View "Knolmayer, et al. v. McCollum" on Justia Law