As technology continues to evolve, it continues to impact our surroundings in positive and negative ways. There is no industry that technological improvements do not affect, and that includes the medical industry. One Pennsylvania family, however, found out the hard way how technology can impact their medical care.
A lawsuit was heard by an appellate Pennsylvania court in order to determine where their medical malpractice suit will be heard since the alleged malpractice of a Pennsylvania doctor occurred in a different county than where the infant was located. Essentially, a doctor was accused of not transmitting medical care recommendations in a timely matter, and that failure to transmit directly resulted in the infant’s harm. Since the information was to be submitted electronically, it wasn’t immediately clear where the case should be brought forth – in the county where the infant resided, or the medical facility where the doctor failed to transmit the medical care plan, in a way that is similar to a failure to diagnose suit.
With much debate between the plaintiffs and defendants, the decision was ultimately settled by Pennsylvania’s appellate court. Their decision was to send the case back to Philadelphia, which is in a different county than where the doctor was located who allegedly did not send the information in a timely manner. This decision was in favor of a plaintiff who appealed the decision of the lower court. The appellate court concluded that the doctor’s alleged actions could qualify as medical malpractice, citing the case Rostock v. Anzalone, which concluded that a doctor could be held liable for not informing a patient about test results or recommending appropriate treatment. As further proof for their decision, even if the alleged error were clerical, the doctor would still be subject to vicarious liability, because she would have an obligation to supervise her staff.
These two conclusions were the biggest determining factors in the appellate court’s decision. It’s possible that the defendants may appeal this decision to the highest Pennsylvania court, but it is unclear at this time if that will be put into motion. This situation is a huge landmark for cases involving an error or delay in treatment due to an action or in-action involving technology. This case, and the case quoted by the appellate court, will have a huge impact on how other similar cases are approached in medical malpractice suits.
Source: law360.com, “Pa. Panel Returns Med Mal Suit To Philadelphia,” Emma Cueto, July 20, 2017