"Lost opportunity" claim dismissed
Raymond O'Neal's malpractice claim against St. John Hospital was dismissed on appeal. He had claimed that he was misdiagnosed and mistreated on admission to the hospital and suffered a stroke as a result. The doctors claimed that whether he was right about the misdiagnosis and malpractice or not, his claim should be thrown out because he could not prove that the poor care increased his likelilhood of suffering a stroke by fifty percent.
The Court drew a distinction between "directly-caused" injuries resulting from malpractice, and "lost-opportunity-to-prevent" injuries, pointing out that in this case, the doctors' treatment did not cause the stroke---rather their care failed to prevent it. In this situation, the "lost opportunity" doctrine requires that the victim show that the alleged poor care made the stroke more than fifty percent more probable than it would have been. Mr. O'Neal's experts could not substantiate that percentage likelihood.