The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in a medical malpractice case present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this medical malpractice/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
Steve White, M.D.’s (hereinafter “White”) Reply to Plaintiff’s Opposition to Summary Judgment Motion by Defendant Steve White, M.D.
The following facts were established in the moving papers in this medical malpractice action, and remain without dispute. Plaintiff Cindy Smith went to the emergency room the day after she fell at her Sacramento home, and she complained of neck pain. The patient was directed to a nurse practitioner (Paul Brown) and was never seen by Dr. White.
Plaintiff’s opposition to this motion is misdirected. Plaintiff’s essential contention is that she should have been seen by a medical doctor and not a nurse practitioner. But, this was a decision made by the triage nurse. Plaintiff argues that Dr. White is “personally and vicariously liable for nurse Paul Brown’s failure …” But, there is no legal basis for vicarious liability on the part of a physician, who simply happens to be in the emergency department at the same time that a patient is treated by a nurse practitioner and discharged.
Beyond expressing an opinion that the patient had a serious condition that warranted evaluation by a medical doctor, not a nurse practitioner, plaintiffs expert provides nothing to the court of legal significance. He attempts to offer an interpretation of Standardized Procedures under which nurse practitioner Wonder operates but such opinion is argumentative, lacks foundation, and is outside the scope of the expertise of a medical expert.
In short, plaintiff seeks to impose liability on Dr. White for a patient he did not see, was not asked to see, and had no opportunity to see. He simply complied with a hospital administrative requirement that he sign nurse practitioner charts, after the fact, on a form that requires a signature of an attending physician. In fact, he was not an attending physician, as he did not attend the patient.
The essential undisputed facts in Dr. White’s favor remain undisputed, and his summary judgment motion should be granted. (See Part 2 of 5.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.