Doctor who accepts E.R. transfer of heart patient owes no duty
Judges Chris Murray, Jane Markey and Stephen Borello completed a "clean sweep" last Friday, when they ruled against four more injury victims and dismissed four more lawsuits. Earlier in the week this panel of judges had dismissed several other appeals brought by injury victims.
One of Friday's decisions was the dismissal of an appeal filed by the widow of a man who had been transported to his local hospital with chest pain. In the Plainwell E.R., the examining doctor could not decide whether the pain was caused by heart problems or a possible rupturing aortic aneurism, and consulted with Sualeh Ashraf at Borgess Medical Center. The two doctors arranged for the decedent to be transported to Borgess for treatment, where the examining physicians concluded that he was in fact experiencing an extensive aortic dissection. Borgess cannot treat this condition, so he was now transported to the University of Michigan. He died at the latter hospital after a 14 hour repair surgery.
Ruth Jaynes, the man's widow, filed suit against Ashraf and Borgess, arguing that they were negligent in accepting a transfer of Jaynes, given that it was known that he might be suffering from a condition which they were incapable of treating. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Jaynes' claim. It did not reach the issue of whether or not Ashraf's decision was negligent. Rather, it concluded that Ashraf and Borgess owed no duty to the patient----EVEN THOUGH THEY CONSULTED WITH HIS DOCTOR AND ACCEPTED THE PATIENT IN TRANSFER, AND EVEN THOUGH ASHRAF'S NAME WAS ON THE BILLING FROM BORGESS TO THE FAMILY.