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Appeals court partially reinstates colonoscopy malpractice claim

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A northern Indiana court inappropriately granted summary judgment in favor of a doctor and medical practice defending a suit brought by a patient who claimed negligence after a colonoscopy, a divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Katherine Chaffins claimed severe pain after a procedure and that she was improperly released from the hospital, after which her pain continued until she returned and was diagnosed with a perforated colon that required surgery.

The appeals panel majority wrote in Katherine Chaffins and Roger Chaffins Sr. v. Clint Kauffman, M.D.; Family and Women's Health Services; and Pulaski County Memorial Hospital, 66A04-1302-CT-85, that the Chaffinses conceded there was no evidence to support the opinion that the doctor misperformed the procedure resulting in the perforation, but there were issues making summary judgment inappropriate.   

The majority partially reinstated a malpractice claim, finding the plaintiffs presented “sufficient evidence to negate the opinion of the medical review panel, thereby establishing a genuine issue of material fact.” The majority granted a limited reversal of Pulaski Superior Judge Patrick Blankenship’s grant of summary judgment. Blankenship relied on the medical review panel’s finding that the defendants did not fail to meet the applicable standard of care.

“What remains is the Chaffinses’ claim that the Defendants’ alleged negligence caused Katherine to suffer twelve hours of prolonged pain. At oral argument, the Defendants conceded that prolonged pain was contemplated by the ‘physical injuries’ allegation in the Chaffinses’ complaint. Accordingly, we conclude that (defendants) failed to make a prima facie showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to causation. Summary judgment in favor of Dr. Kauffman and the Hospital was inappropriate,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in the majority opinion joined by Judge Patricia Riley.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, saying she would affirm summary judgment, noting the doctor relied on his nurse to inform him of Chaffins’ pain after the colonoscopy, which even the defendants’ expert before the review board acknowledged wasn’t inappropriate. Chaffins also was advised to return to the hospital if pain persisted.

“There is no designated evidence to show that the (dismissal) instructions deviated from the standard of care appropriate to Dr. Kauffman and Family and Women’s Health Services,” Brown wrote.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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