Court holds that in negligence case, a hospital "technical partner" leaving patient on hazardous toilet seat may require expert testimony
Candace Sawicki sued Garden City Hospital and the aide who assisted her to the restroom, after she suffered injury in a fall from the toilet seat. The post-knee replacement-patient claimed that after the "technical partner" assisted her to the restroom, she was unstable and "wobbled" on the raised seat, exclaiming a need for help. The hospital argued that her claim should be summarily dismissed because she had failed to comply with the medical malpractice requirements, including affidavits of merit from experts and a formal Notice of Intent to Sue. Her attorneys argued that hers was an "ordinary negligence" claim because it required no special training to assess whether the "tech" should have left her on the seat unassisted.
The Trial Court rejected the hospital's motion and it appealed. The higher court judges ruled that the claim may be one alleging medical malpractice and instructed the trial judge to dismiss those elements of the victim's complaint that suggested a violation of reasonable conduct by a health care professional. To the extent that "medical judgment" is necessary to evaluate the negligence claim, it must be dismissed.