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Court interprets adequacy of Notice of Intent and Affidavits of Merit

In Donald Shields v. James E. McLachlan, M.D., et al., the Court of Appeals rejected the Defendants' attempt to dismiss Shields' malpractice claim because his pre-suit filings were considered by the Defendants to be inadequate.  Shields suffered a hip fracture and associated complications after being sent home following a motorcycle accident that caused his left great toe to be amputated. His attorneys alleged that he suffered the hip fracture when he fell at home because the doctor and "ancillary support staff" did not perform adequate discharge planning.  It was maintained that he wasn't capable of caring for himself adequately at home, and that proper discharge planning would have provided him more appropriate support.

The Court of Appeals held that Shields' Notice of Intent and the Affidavit of Merit signed by an Internal Medicine specialist were adequate to allow the case to go forward, but only on the basis of allegations against the Internal Medicine physician who signed the Discharge.  Since Shields' lawyers did not file an Affidavit of Merit executed by any other medical professionals, Shields cannot allege negligence or fault by "ancillary support staff" such as social workers, occupational therapists, or other persons who might have--or perhaps should have--contributed to the discharge decision.

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