Court of Appeals overturns lower court judge and grants summary disposition in malpractice case.
Janice Brown claimed that her doctor and Oakwood Healthcare mismanaged her colon resection surgery. She argued that Oakwood should be responsible for the doctor's error because she understood that the doctor was an agent of Oakwood. Brown had suffered a perforation of her colon which she claimed that the doctors were unduly slow in diagnosing and treating, leaving her in a coma, an intensive care unity stay and other complications. When Oakwood argued it was not responsible for the doctor's error, the trial judge refused to grant summary disposition; the judge ruled that there was a genuine issue of material fact.
The appellate court reversed and granted summary disposition. It ruled that under relatively recent binding precedent, the patient who believed her doctor was an agent of the hospital must produce evidence of an action taken by the hospital to produce that mistaken understanding. The judges ruled that since Brown enjoyed a physician-patient relationship with the admitting doctor, whom she also believed to be an Oakwood employee, and since he had also visited her at a different hospital, she had no reasonable basis to conclude that either doctor was an Oakwood employee. Further, since her family doctor referred her to the defendant doctor, she could point to no representation by the Hospital of an agency relationship. Since there were no representations about an Oakwood "team" or staff providing treatment, Plaintiff's mistaken belief of agency was dismissed.