The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court (“Massachusetts Appellate Court”) held in its Memorandum and Opinion entered on November 3, 2020: “A medical malpractice tribunal concluded that the plaintiff’s offer of proof was insufficient to present a triable claim of malpractice against any of the defendants, and a judgment of dismissal entered in the Superior Court. On the plaintiff’s appeal, we reverse.”
Medical Malpractice Tribunal
The Massachusetts Appellate Court stated: “Dr. Drew’s credentials and extensive experience sufficiently established his familiarity with the standard of care owed by the defendants … Though the defendants may have “subspecialties,” they indisputably remain either physician assistants with internal medicine backgrounds or board-certified internal medicine physicians. Dr. Drew was qualified to render an opinion regarding the care and treatment they provided … To the extent the defendants contend that Dr. Drew failed to address their specific roles, Dr. Drew acknowledged each of the defendants’ different titles, roles, and many of their specialties, in his detailed chronology of the medical facts and events upon which his opinion was based … Dr. Drew’s opinions were supported by information in the hospital records before the tribunal … Several signs and symptoms of an acute bowel process were in fact documented not only by the nurses, but also by the defendants themselves (though they may have attributed them to another cause).
The Massachusetts Appellate Court held: “We are unpersuaded by the defendants’ contention that Dr. Drew’s causation opinions were speculative, conjectural, and conclusory … The opinions instead were grounded on information in the hospital records showing, if substantiated, a classic course of worsening ischemic bowel that was missed by the defendants. Dr. Drew essentially found that if the defendants had timely recognized the potential danger, performed the appropriate tests, called in an appropriate expert, or sent Lacorazza to the ICU where he belonged for closer monitoring, Lacorazza’s ischemic bowel would have been diagnosed earlier, more likely than not, before it progressed to an irreversible bowel infarction, cardiac arrest, and death. This opinion connecting deviations from the standard of care and harm was sufficient at the tribunal stage … It is enough to adduce evidence that there is a greater likelihood or probability that the harm to the plaintiff flowed from conduct for which the defendant was responsible . . . The plaintiff is not required to show that the physician’s negligence is the exact cause of the harm nor is the plaintiff required to exclude all possibility that the harm would not have occurred absent the physician’s negligence.”
The Massachusetts Appellate Court concluded: “The judgment of dismissal is vacated. The findings and decision of the medical malpractice tribunal in favor of the defendants are vacated and new findings and a decision shall be entered for the plaintiff stating that the evidence presented, if properly substantiated, is sufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry. The case is remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings.”
Source Lacorazza v. Pham, 19-P-1829.
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of the medical negligence in Massachusetts or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.