Justices to consider whether independent physician liability extends to nonhospitals

The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to consider the question of whether the same liability hospitals hold for independent-contractor physicians can be extended to nonhospital facilities.

The high court last week unanimously granted transfer to four cases, including Harold Arrendale v. American Imaging & MRI, LLC a/k/a Marion Open MRI, et al., 21S-CT-370.

That case involves the missed diagnosis of a fistula, which led Harold Arrendale to sue Marion Open MRI and his doctor. But the Allen Superior Court granted summary judgment to Marion Open MRI, a nonhospital facility, because it found that the ruling in Sword v. NKC Hospitals, Inc., 714 N.E.2d 142 (Ind. 1999), applied only to a hospital’s liability for its contract employees.

The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, reinstated the case, pointing to the “highly persuasive” decision in Webster v. Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Inc., 1:16-cv-02677-JMS-DML, 2017 WL 3839377 (S. D. Ind. Aug. 31, 2017). Webster found no meaningful difference between a hospital and diagnostic imaging center under Sword.

Oral arguments in Arrendale are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The justices also granted transfer to a second health care case, ResCare Health Services, Inc. v. Indiana Family & Social Services Administration, 21S-MI-372.

There, the Court of Appeals upheld court and agency denials of ResCare Health Services’ claims for reimbursement for over-the-counter medications that are not on Indiana’s Medicaid Formulary. ResCare operates intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, known as ICF/IIDs, and receives a per diem rate from Medicaid for qualified patients.

“(W)e hold that the FSSA’s interpretation that OTC medicines are not included in the per diem rate for privately-run facilities for ICF/IID is not contrary to law; the denial of reimbursement for non-Formulary OTC medicines is not an unconstitutional taking under the Indiana Constitution; and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying ResCare’s request for declaratory judgment,” the COA ruled in April.

Oral arguments in ResCare Health Services had not been scheduled at IL deadline.

Finally, the high court granted transfer to two cases following unpublished opinions from the Court of Appeals.

The case of Darci Wilson v. Anonymous Defendant 1, 21S-CT-371,  affirmed summary judgment for an anonymous defendant in a medical malpractice suit alleging negligence for an injury Darci Wilson allegedly suffered during a rehabilitation session with a physical therapist. Oral arguments in that case will be heard at 9 a.m. Sept. 22.

The fourth case, Juventino V. Ramirez v. State of Indiana, 21S-CR-373, involves Juventino V. Ramirez’s conviction of Level 4 felony child molesting, which was affirmed in May. Oral arguments had not been scheduled at IL deadline.

The court denied transfer to 20 other cases, splitting 4-1 on two cases and 3-2 on two others.

The full list of transfer decisions is available online.

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