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Court rejects testimony of family and expert nurse; summarily dismisses malpractice claim

Amy Hammond sued the Port Huron Hospital after she suffered a "late stage pressure ulcer" and signficant scarring.  She claimed that the nursing staff failed to comply with the standard of care while she was in a medically-induced coma.  Several nurses filed affidavits that they did comply with the standard by shifting Hammond's weight every two hours. 

Two of Hammond's family members alleged that they were present and that Hammond was not shifted every two hours.  The family retained a nurse expert who testified that there was a breach, in her opinion, based on the existence of the sore itself, the testimony of the family, and the fact that the nurses did not chart that they had repositioned Hammond every two hours.

Despite this evidence and the duty to "view the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff" on motion for summary disposition, judges Kirsten F. Kelly and Patrick M. Meter affirmed the summary dismissal of Hammond's case.  They ignored the fact that one nurse's affidavit only alleged repositioning Hammond "about" every two hours, and the fact that another nurse explained the failure to reposition Hammond with the statement that she "gets very upset when we move her and it affects her breathing."  Instead, they offered the opinion that the family's nurse was engaged in "speculation and conjecture" because "the lack of documentation in the chart does not create a question of fact."  Apparently, neither do the observations of family members or admissions by a party, if the admissions do not "explicitly and directly contradict" the party's legal position.

Since the expert nurse engaged by the Plaintiffs did not accuse the caregiving nurses of lying at their depositions, she could not justify the conclusion she reached that Hammond's care was inadequate.  To his credit, Judge Michael J. Kelly refused to sign the opinion that only paid "lip-service" to the appellate court judges' legal duty.

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