Trial court correctly determined physician had no duty to patient

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court that summary judgment is appropriate for a physician being sued for medical malpractice because there was no physician-patient relationship.

Ruth Giles, 57, went to the hospital in August 2010 to have an outpatient closed nasal reduction surgery. She had fallen and broken her nose two weeks prior to the surgery. The surgery had no major complications, but afterward, Giles had continued low blood pressure and chest pain. The surgeon contacted the on-call hospitalist to take a look at Giles.

The hospitalist visited with Giles, but once he checked her chart and saw her family doctor had not authorized the hospitalist or his group to treat his patients, the hospitalist told Giles he couldn’t treat her because she was not a hospitalist patient. The family doctor preferred to continue care of his patients while in the hospital.

Giles was eventually admitted to the hospital, where her condition deteriorated after testing positive for influenza. She died three days after the surgery, with her cause of death listed as cardiopulmonary arrest due to respiratory failure and pneumonia.

Giles’ husband sued, on behalf of himself and her estate, the physicians, hospital, and other medical entities involved in Giles’ care. None of the defendants are identified in the court opinion because James Giles also filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint with the Department of Insurance at the same time he filed his court action. Indiana law allows this practice as long as defendants cannot be identified.

The trial court ruled in favor of the hospitalist and the medical corporation he worked for, finding the hospitalist did not have a physician-patient relationship with Giles and therefore owed no duty to her.

The Court of Appeals affirmed, pointing to caselaw that clearly explains that a physician who does not treat a patient or perform some affirmative act regarding the patient has no doctor-patient relationship and thus owes no duty to that patient.

It’s undisputed that the hospitalist did not render any care to Giles, the judges held, noting that the physician did not submit a billing charge for Giles and informed the surgeon and Giles that her family doctor did not give him permission to treat her.

The case is James Giles, Individually and as Executor of the Estate of Ruth Giles, deceased v. Anonymous Physician I, Anonymous Corporation I, Anonymous Hospital I, Anonymous Physician II, et al., 03A01-1306-CT-257.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues