Case dismissed because malpractice victim did not know doctor's partner wrote order
Joan Milostan sued Troy Internal Medicine, Mark Sinkoff, MD, Michael Simpson, MD and Neil Fraser, MD, after her doctors responded to a concerned nursing inquiry and did not order an immediate Coumadin level. Milostan had successfully endured microsurgery for an aneurysm and the home health care nurses attending to her were concerned by her elevated Coumadin levels. When they consulted her doctors, however, the doctors didn't order an immediate blood level, and the same dosage of Coumadin was continued for two weeks.
In the interim before the next test, Milostan suffered a subdural hematoma brought on by elevated Coumadin levels. Her condition necessitated a left frontal craniotomy, and she sued the doctors for the bad advice, in failing to order a Coumadin blood level within 2-3 days. Unbeknownst to her, however, it was actually Dr. Fraser--not her doctor--who responded to the nurses and failed to act in accordance with the standard of care. She had not joined him in her original suit and did not learn of his involvement until discovery during the lawsuit identified a "phone slip" in her chart that was purportedly written by Fraser--but did not contain any identifying information.
The Plaintiff's attorneys immediately joined Fraser in the lawsuit and the Court dismissed the other doctors in the Troy Internal Medicine practice. Fraser then sought summary disposition because he had not been joined in the case within the normal two-year statute of limitations. Milostan's attorneys argued that Fraser should be denied summary disposition because he was joined in the case within six months of the "discovery" of his identity. The Court held that the six-month discovery extension of the statute of limitations applies only to the discovery of an injury claim--not to the discovery of the identity of the perpetrator. Therefore, Milostan's case was properly dismissed under Michigan malpractice rules, even though she promptly have notice of her claim to his partners and his insurer, and even though she acted promptly to sue Fraser upon being made aware of his involvement in her care.