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Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Case Against Doctor, Nurse, and Student Physician’s Assistant

Doctors and nurses make mistakes. Sometimes, these errors in judgment cause serious harm to patients. When this happens, the injured individual has a right to seek fair compensation through a Cape Cod medical malpractice claim.

However, it is important to note that medical malpractice cases can be difficult to pursue. The insurance companies that represent healthcare facilities and medical professionals have plenty of financial resources to fight a finding of liability, if possible.

It is important to consult a knowledgeable malpractice attorney if you believe that you have a medical negligence claim. An attorney experienced in this area of the law can help you review your medical records, consult an appropriate expert witness to render an opinion regarding whether an act of malpractice occurred, and, if the case proceeds to trial, explain the complex medical issues to the jury in a way that they can understand.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent (unreported) case considered on appeal was a man who injured his hand in a fall in 2012. He went to the defendant hospital’s emergency department, where he was seen by the defendant nurse and the defendant student physician’s assistant, who was working under the supervision of the defendant doctor. Two days later, the plaintiff sought treatment at a different medical facility; there, it was determined that the injury was infected and required surgery. The plaintiff later filed suit against the defendants, alleging that they had committed medical malpractice and that, as a result, he had suffered pain, suffering, and loss of function.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

Upon review, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed. The court began by acknowledging that the lower court had entered summary judgment to the hospital in a separate order than the order dismissing the plaintiff’s case against the individual defendants; because the plaintiff had failed to timely appeal that judgment, the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction to consider the propriety of the order of summary judgment as to the hospital. With regard to the individual defendants, the court was able to reach the merits of the parties’ arguments and agreed with the trial court that the plaintiff’s case was properly dismissed.

In so holding, the court reiterated the rule that to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff had the burden of proving both that the defendant(s) breached the applicable standard of care and that this breach was the proximate cause of the injuries for which the plaintiff seeks compensation. As to the doctor, although the plaintiff had apparently consulted an expert witness, the plaintiff had failed to pay the expert within a reasonable amount of time, such that the expert would not have testified at trial had the case proceeded that far. With regard to the nurse, the plaintiff’s expert opined that the defendant nurse had breached the standard of care by not being more proactive in her treatment of the plaintiff, but the expert had not stated that any such breach was the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff. Finally, as to the student, the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion did not address the standard of care that was applicable to a student physician’s assistant, nor did it address whether any deviation from care was a contributing cause of harm to the plaintiff.

To Schedule a Free Consultation with a Cape Cod Attorney

If you have been hurt by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or another medical professional, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. To talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your case, call us at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III at 888-262-6664 and ask for a free consultation.

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