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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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