Court decides to publish malpractice decision regarding forseeability and causation
Several weeks ago, we reported on the Lockridge v. Oakwood Hospital and Donald R. Schipper, M.D., decision. Scarlett Lockridge had sued the defendants and achieved a modest verdict after Schipper mis-diagnosed and mis-treated her son. The Lockridge boy suffered chest pains, vomited and lost consciousness on his way to the school bus. Schipper diagnosed his problem as anxiety and prescribed him Toradol and valium. Lockridge's expert physicians claimed that Schipper should have ordered a chest x-ray, and that if he had, the aortic abnormality which killed young Lockridge would have been discovered and successfully treated before it ruptured.
Schipper appealed the jury verdict, arguing that he shouldn't be criticized for not ordering a chest x-ray because he could not reasonable have anticipated or foreseen the particular problem that killed young Lockridge. The Court agreed with Lockridge's experts that if Schipper did not comply with the standard of care, he was responsible for the outcome, even if he would not have foreseen precisely where standard of care treatment would lead Lockridge's treaters. The Court noted that a negligent actor need not foresee precisely what outcome will result from his failure to use due care. Even though an aortic dissection wasn't the "likely" cause of a child's chest pain, nausea and loss of consciousness, if complying with the standard of care would have addressed this cause and prevented death, the negligent doctor was liable.
By publishing its decision, the Court of Appeals' panel gave its decision greater precedential impact.