In its decision filed on April 7, 2017, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision in the case that held that a plaintiff may raise any theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the Medical Review Panel (“MRP”) process if (1) the proposed complaint encompasses the theories, and (2) the evidence relating to those theories was before the MRP.
The plaintiff had filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance pursuant to the Medical Malpractice Act, alleging that the defendant doctor’s medical and surgical treatment of his wife failed to meet the appropriate standard of care. In addition to the proposed medical malpractice complaint, the plaintiff submitted to the MRP his wife’s medical records and a narrative statement describing the records and alleging the delay in exploratory surgery following his wife’s readmission to the hospital resulted in her death.
The MRP issued a unanimous opinion finding the evidence did not support a conclusion that the defendant doctor had failed to meet the applicable standard of care. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice complaint in court.
After extensive discovery, the plaintiff filed a supplemental witness list naming an expert hematologist who was expected to testify that the defendant doctor had failed to prescribe the appropriate dosage of anticoagulation medication, leading to his wife’s death. The defendant doctor then filed a motion to strike the hematologist’s opinion on the grounds the plaintiff’s submission to the MRP did not allege malpractice relating to the anticoagulation medication and therefore the plaintiff could not pursue that claim in court. The trial court denied the defendant doctor’s motion after which the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s Decision
The Indiana Supreme Court stated that before a plaintiff may pursue a malpractice complaint in court against a qualified healthcare provider, the Medical Malpractice Act requires the plaintiff to present a proposed complaint to a MRP, and the MRP must give its opinion as to whether the provider breached the standard of care. Ind. Code § 34-18-8-4.
The Indiana Supreme Court disagreed with the defendant doctor that the plaintiff is attempting to raise a new claim in the trial court that he did not present to the MRP, in violation of the statute. The Indiana Supreme Court adopted the Indiana Court of Appeals’ decision that held that “a plaintiff may raise any theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the MRP process if (1) the proposed complaint encompasses the theories, and (2) the evidence relating to those theories was before the MRP.”
Source McKeen v. Turner, No. 53S05-1704-CT-202.
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