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Nurses may be expert witnesses in some standard of care disputes

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The Indiana Court of Appeals declined Wednesday to create a blanket rule that nurses cannot qualify as expert witnesses under the Indiana Evidence Rule and testify as to whether a health care provider breached a standard of care or whether an alleged breach caused an injury.

The decision came in a wrongful death, breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress claim filed by Michael Curts. Curts’ elderly mother lived in Miller’s Merry Manor nursing home to receive care following a stroke. She had a history of falling and of getting out of bed while waiting for nurses to help her to use the bathroom. On May 7, 2006, staff found her lying face down on the floor in a large amount of blood. Curts happened to arrive at the room during this incident and saw his mother on the floor. She died the next day in the hospital.

He sought to have Theresa Weitkamp, a nurse and nursing home administrator, testify as an expert witness. She concluded that Miller’s Merry Manor deviated from commonly accepted standards of care and regulations.  

A medical review panel of three doctors determined the evidence didn’t support that the nursing home failed to meet the appropriate standard of care and its conduct wasn’t a factor of the resultant damages. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the nursing home.

The appellate court reviewed caselaw in which nurses have been found unable to testify as expert witnesses regarding medical causation and medical standards. In those cases, the medical causation issues were complex, but in the instant case, the question is whether Miller’s Merry Manor failed to meet its standard of care and whether the injuries from the fall caused the woman’s death.

“In a scenario such as this, we cannot foreclose the possibility that some nurses have sufficient expertise to qualify as an expert witness,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

But Curts didn’t present sufficient evidence of Weitkamp’s expertise for the court to conclude that she qualifies as an expert witness. In addition, the judges found Curts failed to meet his burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact.

 

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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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