In Morrison v. St. Luke’s RMC, plaintiff was taken to defendant’s emergency department the day after Christmas in 2011. He was there after complaining of chest pain. The doctor who examined plaintiff conducted a thorough physical examination after taking the patient’s relevant medical history.
After completing his examination, treating doctor made a determination that plaintiff was not suffering from a heart attack and was stable enough to be discharged from the hospital. The doctor did tell him that he should see a cardiologist the following morning for a follow up consultation. He also gave plaintiff the contact information for a cardiologist that he should see if he did not have one already.
He also told plaintiff to call his primary care doctor the next day and sent his medical record via fax to his primary care physician that day. His regular doctor’s office called him and left a message to schedule an appointment, but according to court records he did not do so.
The next day, plaintiff’s wife called to schedule an appointment with the cardiologist and spoke with an appointment scheduler who worked for defendant. She was told that the next available appointment was in a month. This is not uncommon, as anybody who calls a specialist for an initial consultation is probably aware.
She asked for an earlier appointment since this did not seem right, so the scheduler gave her an appointment a week sooner with another cardiologist in the same practice. In less than two weeks, plaintiff died from a heart attack. Plaintiff’s surviving spouse filed a motion against the doctor in the emergency room personally and the two medical providers. These corporate defendants filed a motion for summary judgment asking the claims against them be dismissed and the district court granted their motion. The case went to trial against only the doctor.
At trial, the jury concluded that defendant had not fallen below the applicable standard of care in a medical malpractice case.
As our Boston medical malpractice attorneys can explain, a doctor is required to adhere to the standard of care that a reasonable doctor in the same practice area would practice in the same or similar situation. In other words, the defendant is required to act at least as careful as another doctor would have acted if the same or similar patient came into the emergency room, and they were the treating physician. Plaintiff appealed this decision.
There were several reasons for filing the appeal. The first reason was that the trial court had improperly granted the dismissals against the two institutional defendants. The second reason what that a reasonable jury would not have found that defendant was not liable for injuries to the plaintiff. However, the court after reviewing the record, found no reversible error committed by the trial judge and affirmed the lower court’s decision to grant defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the jury’s finding of a verdict in favor of defendant.
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Morrison v. St. Luke’s RMC, July 22, 2016, Idaho Supreme Court
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