Filing a successful Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit can be a complicated endeavor. Not only do these claims often require several expert witnesses to explain the relevant issues in the case to the jury, but there are also additional procedural requirements that a plaintiff must follow.
Under Indiana Code Article 18 Chapter 8, a person bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a healthcare professional must first submit their claim to a medical review panel and obtain the panel’s opinion. If a plaintiff fails to comply with this requirement, or any of the other requirements outlined in Chapter 8, the court will dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. Depending on the timing of the plaintiff’s case, this could preclude the plaintiff from recovering for their injuries.
A recent case arising in another jurisdiction illustrates that not all claims against healthcare providers will be considered “medical malpractice” cases. Typically, these are cases that are brought against medical professionals but do not implicate a professional duty of care. For example, a slip-and-fall accident in a doctor’s office may not be considered a medical malpractice claim.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff arranged to have a doctor perform a hysterectomy. Before the procedure began, the defendant anesthesiologist prepared the plaintiff for surgery by intubating her. However, while the plaintiff was being intubated, the power went out, and the anesthesiologist dropped a tool. The tool landed on the plaintiff’s tooth, causing it to break.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the anesthesiologist. The plaintiff did not obtain an expert affidavit (a requirement that is similar to Indiana’s medical review panel). The anesthesiologist moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim, arguing that the plaintiff’s failure to obtain an expert affidavit precluded the court from considering her case.
The Court’s Opinion
The court first noted that the defendant was correct in that an expert affidavit must accompany all medical malpractice claims. However, the court concluded that the plaintiff did not need to obtain an expert affidavit because her case relied on the res ipsa loquitur doctrine, rather than traditional theories of medical malpractice. The court explained that the plaintiff’s claim was not that the defendant violated a professional duty of care that was owed to her. Instead, the plaintiff’s claim was based on the argument that her injuries would not have normally occurred but for the defendant’s negligent conduct. Because the state’s medical malpractice requirements did not apply to res ipsa loquitur claims, the court allowed the plaintiff’s case to continue toward trial.
Have You Been Injured?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional or while at a medical facility, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the Indiana personal injury law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent Indiana injury victims in all types of personal injury and medical malpractice claims in pursuit of compensation against those responsible for their injuries. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.
Indiana Court Holds Plaintiff’s Misuse of Tool Defeated Product Liability Claim, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2018
Plaintiff Injured in Slip-and-Fall Accident at Doctor’s Office Failed to Show Defendant’s Knowledge of the Hazard that Caused Her Fall, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018