Claim that ambulance dispatch was too slow is deemed claim of "medical malpractice"
The family of Jerri Lockwood sued Mobile Medical Response, Inc., in Saginaw Circuit Court, arguing that it's ambulance took too long to respond to a 911 call of cardiac arrest at a softball game. The ambulance company denied that it's dispatch was slow and asked the Court to dismiss the claim for failing to comply with the mandates of Michigan's medical malpractice reform laws. The trial judge rejected this defense, interpreting the case as one of ordinary negligence: i.e., how long should it take a contractually-bound ambulance to respond to an emergency?
The Defendant ambulance service appealed and two judges of the Court of Appeals (one was Kirsten Kelly who always votes for insurers) overturned the trial judge. They held that it would require medical expertise to assess whether the ambulance's response was negligently slow. The dissenting judge pointed out that the plaintiff family will need medical expertise to show that a faster response would have changed the outcome of Ms. Lockwood's heart-attack, but derided the claim that professional medical judgment is necessary to show how long it should take an ambulance to respond to a report of cardiac emergency.