(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death/elder abuse case and its proceedings.)
Plaintiffs Cannot Establish Causation: Nothing the Universal Medical Center Staff, or Dr. Greene, Did or Failed to Do Caused or Contributed to Mr. Ryan’s Death, as He Was Clinically Dead When He Arrived at the Emergency Room
Mr. Ryan was found in full cardiac arrest in his home. Paramedics arrived on scene approximately 15 minutes after Mr. Ryan was first found unresponsive, and he did not respond to the advanced life support efforts rendered by the paramedic team for over 30 minutes, between 2251 and 2322. In other words, by the time Mr. Ryan arrived at Universal, he had been unresponsive and lifeless (i.e., dead) for approximately 45 minutes. The emergency room staff undertook further resuscitation efforts which were overseen by Dr. Greene for yet another 23 minutes, with no success. Dr. Fine has reviewed the medical records from Universal which reflect the treatment rendered during the code, the medications given and the efforts undertaken to revive Mr. Ryan. It is her expert opinion that not only was this care well within the standard of care for emergency room treatment, but that the code could have been called even earlier than it was.
It is Dr. Fine’s opinion that Mr. Ryan was clinically dead by the time he reached the hospital, and there was nothing the staff or Dr. Greene could have done that would have brought Mr. Ryan back to life. Because Mr. Ryan was already dead on arrival at the hospital, nothing the hospital did could have caused his death, which had already occurred. Therefore, plaintiffs cannot establish the necessary elements of breach of standard of care or causation, and summary adjudication as to their wrongful death cause of action against Universal must be granted.
Plaintiffs allege wrongful death against Universal. They do not allege any wrongdoing against the Universal hospital staff, hut instead, allege that Dr. Greene was an agent or employee of Universal, and that his treatment of Mr. Ryan in the emergency room was negligent. It is plaintiffs’ allegation that Universal is legally responsible for Dr. Greene’s treatment of Mr. Ryan through this alleged agency/employment relationship. Again, while Universal denies that such a relationship exists, it presumes for purposes of this motion only, that Dr. Greene was an agent or employee of Universal. The issue of agency is irrelevant, however. It is clear from the medical records and from the expert testimony of Dr. Jane Fine that there was no treatment of Mr. Ryan in the emergency room that fell below any standard of care, and further, that Mr. Ryan was clinically dead when he arrived at Universal emergency room.
He had been in full cardiac arrest for approximately 45 minutes prior to his arrival in the emergency room, and there was nothing the staff or Dr. Greene could have done to revive him. Thus, nothing the emergency room staff or Dr. Greene did caused or contributed to Mr. Ryan’s death, as he was already clinically dead when he arrived at the hospital.
Because plaintiffs cannot establish two of the necessary elements of their wrongful death cause of action against Universal, even presuming an agency relationship vis-a-vis Dr. Greene, summary adjudication is required against this cause of action and in favor of Universal.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.