Medical malpractice refers to a specific type of personal injury claim where a doctor or other healthcare provider is accused of violating the “standard of care” for their profession. What constitutes the applicable standard of care in a given case will depend on several factors, including not just the patient’s health but also the commonly accepted practices and procedures for the provider’s specialty or subspecialty.
Since the average person is legally considered not qualified to understand or explain the standard of care, Ohio law requires a medical malpractice plaintiff to present testimony from one or more medical experts just to get their case heard. Such experts should be able to explain the applicable standard of care and how the defendant’s actions deviated from that standard to the plaintiff’s detriment.
Michigan Court Allows Malpractice Case to Proceed Against Cardiologist Over Patient’s Death
It is entirely possible for a plaintiff to sue multiple healthcare providers in connection with a malpractice event, only to find that the expert testimony will only support claims against some defendants. This recently happened in a Michigan case, Estate of Szekely v. Kinachtchouk, where that state’s court of appeals reinstated a malpractice claim against one doctor while affirming a trial court’s earlier dismissal in favor of another doctor and his physician assistant.
This particular case involves a man who died while under the care of his doctors. The victim was 57 years old and had suffered a heart attack. In response, doctors inserted an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in the right ventricle of the victim’s heart.
About two weeks after this procedure, the victim returned to the hospital complaining of “chest pain and shortness of breath.” A cardiologist consulted on the victim’s case. But after just two days, the hospital discharged the victim. Another week passed, and the victim went to his primary care doctor presenting the same complaints as before. The victim received treatment from a physician assistant and was sent home. A few days after that, the victim died as the result of cardiac tamponade, which is the “compression of the heart from an accumulation of fluid within the pericardial sac.”
The victim’s estate subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against both doctors and the physician assistant. Essentially, the lawsuit alleges that one of the electrical leads in the ICD had moved, causing the victim’s reported symptoms. The doctors should have realized this was the problem and fixed it; had they done so, the victim would not have suffered the fatal cardiac tamponade.
In allowing the case to proceed against the cardiologist, the Michigan Court of Appeals cited the testimony of the estate’s expert witness, who explained that under the applicable standard of care, the cardiologist should have ordered additional testing, which would have revealed that the movement of the ICD caused one of its wire leads to perforate the victim’s heart. The expert’s testimony on this point was enough to establish a “genuine issue of material fact” regarding the cardiologist’s conduct, and thus sufficient to return the medical malpractice claim for trial.
Contact the Cleveland Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Tittle & Perlmutter Today
In Ohio, like Michigan, obtaining proper expert testimony is an essential element of a successful medical malpractice case. An experienced Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in obtaining such testimony as part of building your overall case against a negligent healthcare provider. Contact Tittle & Perlmutter at (216) 308-1522 today to schedule a consultation.