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COA affirms ruling clearing consulting doctor in death case claiming negligence

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A trial court properly granted summary judgment to a doctor defending a negligence case brought by the estate of a man who died, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, finding no doctor-patient relationship existed.

In Steven Harper and Rose Harper as Co-Personal Representatives of the Estate of Steven Harper, Deceased v. Gerry Hippensteel, M.D.,  42A04-1302-MI-95, the appellate panel found the doctor owed no duty to Steven Harper Jr., who died at the Primary Care Clinic in Vincennes in November 2008 after suffering a pulmonary embolism and deep venous thrombosis.

Dr. Gerry Hippensteel had entered into an Indiana Collaborative Practice Agreement with nurse practitioner Vonetta Vories, in which Hippensteel consulted and reviewed a random 5 percent sampling of the nurse’s patient records, including medications prescribed.  

The court concluded that the undisputed facts prove Hippensteel didn’t owe a duty to Harper in the traditional sense because he had never seen him as a patient and never discussed his case with Vories. It then dealt with the question of whether the Collaborative Practice Agreement established a duty for the doctor.

“Because the CPA explicitly states that its terms do not place any increased liability on Dr. Hippensteel for decisions made by NP Vories, and indicates that NP Vories had the independent authority to treat patients as she saw fit, we cannot conclude that Dr. Hippensteel entered into a physician-patient relationship with each of NP Vories’s patients merely because he entered into a CPA with NP Vories,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the panel that included Judges Mark Bailey and Melissa May.

“Accordingly, because the CPA did not increase Dr. Hippensteel’s liability, Dr. Hippensteel could only be found to have entered into a physician-patient relationship and, as a result, acquired a duty to NP Vories’s patients, if he performed any affirmative act with regard to the patient,” the panel held.



 

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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