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Another medical injury case dismissed on a technicality

Dr. Peggy Ann Nowak, M.D., performed a parotidectomy (removal of a parotid gland) on Elaine Johnson.  During the surgery, Ms. Johnson suffered severe burn injuries in the area of her left ear.  In her Operative Report, Dr. Nowak apparently concluded the burns were caused by the headlight she wore during surgery.  Johnson filed an ordinary negligence case against Nowak and William Beaumont Hospital, arguing in part that the headlight had not been properly inspected and maintained.

The Defendants asked the Court to dismiss the case because Johnson's attorneys had not filed a Notice of Intent to Sue as required under Medical Malpractice "reform" legislation.  Johnson's attorneys pointed out that compliance with the malpractice requirements is necessary only if an alleged claim "raises questions of medical judgment beyond the realm of common knowledge and experience."  They argued that nothing about the burns caused by the "headlight" required medical knowledge or training and that this was a simple case of ordinary negligence.  The trial court disagreed and dismissed the claim and the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal.

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