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Court of Appeals reverses medical malpractice ruling

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Determining that a question exists about when the statute of limitations started running on a proposed medical malpractice complaint, the Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a decision in a case involving the death of a woman at an Indianapolis hospital after receiving medication prior to heart surgery.

In Irmina Gradus-Pizlo, M.D. and Select Specialty Hospitals Indianapolis, Inc. v. Donald Acton, No. 49A02-1106-CT-503, the appellate court reversed a decision by Marion Superior Judge Cynthia Ayers.

Myrtle Acton became Dr. Irmina Gradus-Pizlo’s patient in February 2006, and a year later the doctor determined the woman was a candidate for surgical correction of a heart defect. The doctor put her on a medication prior to surgery and Acton ended up suffering from ventricular tachycardia before going into full cardiac arrest at Methodist Hospital’s intensive care unit. She was stabilized and taken off the original medication, but subsequently died on April 12, 2006.

On April 1, 2008, her husband, Donald, filed a medical malpractice complaint against Dr. Gradus-Pizlo and Select Specialty Hospitals, and in 2010 the defendants filed summary judgment motions alleging that Acton had failed to comply with the Medical Malpractice Act statute of limitations. The trial court denied both motions after a hearing, finding genuine issues of material fact with regard to the trigger date of the two-year statute of limitations.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with Acton that he couldn’t have learned of any malpractice until after his wife’s death April 12, 2006. The claim specifically involves the enhanced medicine regime that Gradus-Pizlo ordered in March of that year, and the discovery date about the medicine’s implications was when she had the ventricular tachycardia on March 29, 2006. Since Acton’s complaint came three days later, he’s barred by the statute of limitations.

Addressing the doctrine of continuing wrong that Acton used to sidestep the statute of limitations argument, the appellate court determined that Myrtle Acton stopped receiving the medication at issue on March 29, and so the continuation of any possible wrong ended at that time.

The court found a similar result in looking at the allegations against Select Specialty Hospitals, finding that the hospital stopped giving her the medication on March 29 and that makes the medical malpractice complaint untimely. The panel didn’t address Acton’s argument about the continuation of a prescription by a doctor not in Select Specialty Hospital’s employment being considered medical malpractice on the hospital’s part.

The appellate court reversed and granted summary judgment to Gradus-Pizlo and the hospital.

 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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