Doctor must provide limited discovery into health history, substance abuse
James M. Tschirhart was sued by the family of Melvin Tomich after Tomich failed to survive gall bladder surgery. The Tomich family alleged that Tschirhart was negligent in failing to discontinue Tomich's aspirin therapy, in failing to monitor Tomich post-operatively and in failing to obtain a proper cardiac clearance for surgery. Tschirhart initially failed to answer the complaint and was defaulted. His attorneys then sought to set aside the default, alleging a medical condition that had interfered with his ability to respond. The Court set aside the default, but also allowed the victim's family to demand limited information about Tschirhart's medical history, including any history of substance abuse during the previous ten years. Tschirhart's insurer appealed this ruling.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision. It noted that the answers were to be confidential and were reasonably related to the victim's family's contention that health or substance abuse issues may have contributed to Tschirhart's alleged negligence.