Spectrum, Butterworth and Carson City Defendants denied loopholes in malpractice claimEric Decker was born at Carson City Hospital and sent home 18 hours later. The following day, his mother brought him back in. The doctors diagnosed profound hypoglycemia and sent him to Spectrum. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with severe brain damage, resulting in developmental delays, sensory deficits, blindness and cerebal palsy. His mother filed suit against several of the treaters, arguing that the delay in diagnosing Eric's hypoglcyemic condition resulted in his permanent, severe deficits. The insurers for several of the Defendants appealed the trial court's decision to allow Decker's attorneys to amend their Complaint to more clearly delineate their allegations of malpractice.
The Defendants' insurers claimed that the amended complaint raised new theories and that the Decker family should be bound by the four corners of it's pre-suit Notice of Intent. The higher court agreed with the trial judge that the amended complaint merely clarified the claims originally contained in the Notice and incorporated the information gleaned from discovery on a timely basis. The appellate judges pointed out that the malpractice victims were not required to craft their pre-suit Notice "with omniscience." If they prepared a document that contains good faith, responsive and particularized averments consistent with the early stage of proceedings, the NOI was adequate to fulfill its statutory purpose. It is not a breach of the statute, they concluded, to amend the Complaint after discovery, to conform to the facts that have been developed.
The Court of Appeals also rejected the defendants' argument that the court should have struck Plaintiff's expert witness on nursing standards of care. The Defendants mis-stated the witness's testimony to suggest that she was not familiar with the "local" standard of nursing practice. The appellate judges noted that the nurse involved cited substantial experience in a high quality PICU in a similar-sized community, and that, in fact, the expert's claim was that the alleged standard of care was so basic that it was followed by nurses on a universal, national basis.
Lastly, the Court dismissed the defendants' claim that Plaintiffs were wrongly criticizing "mere charting issues" as a breach of the standard of care. The Court cited the Plaintiff's expert testimony establishing that the alleged chart omissions were criticized as documentation of the Defendants' failure to communicate properly between and among health care providers, resulting in a failure to treat in accordance with the applicable standard of care.