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NV: pt. contracted infection after triple bypass: judgment for Drs. affirmed on appeal re expert.

CASE FACTS: William Carries underwent a triple coronary artery bypass. Shortly after surgery, he developed complications and was examined by Drs. Kathleen Wairmu and Ronald Shockley, infectious disease consultants. As a result of the complications, William brought a medical malpractice suit against Drs. Wairmu and Shockley, alleging that they were negligent in failing to diagnose a post-surgical sternal wound infection and in failing to take measures to avoid further complications resulting from the infection. William designated Dr. Simone Russo, as his medical expert. The doctors filed a motion, in limine, seeking to preclude Dr. Russo from testifying on the grounds that he was not qualified to render standard of care testimony. The district court granted the motion, disqualifying Dr. Russo under the standard of care set forth in Staccato v. Valley Hospital, 123 Nev. 526 170 P.3d 503 (2007), since William had no expert to testify. William appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The Supreme Court of Nevada affirmed the order of the district court granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court held, inter alia, that because of the disqualification of Williams" would-be expert medical witness, the trial judge had no choice but to grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court noted that the defendant doctors' medical expert. Dr. Jerrold Dreyer. a board certified physician in internal medicine and infectious disease, opined that neither physician violated the standard of care or caused a legal injury. Based on these uncontroverted facts, summary judgment was appropriate, since no genuine issues of fact remained and the defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. The court distinguished this case from Stacatto because Dr. Russo was not an infectious disease specialist and had no training in that specialty, despite the fact that Dr. Russo had been a general practitioner and had acted as "first assistant" in "hundreds" of surgeries. The court rejected William's contention that the doctors had engaged in "legal wrangling" and pointed to the timing of their motion, which they contended was calculated to "hamstring" his case from being heard on the merits. However, the court noted that William was unable to cite any law or precedent demonstrating, let alone suggesting, that Drs. Wairmu and Shockley's actions were improper. As such, the court declined to address William's argument further. Editor's Note: This case illustrates how important it is for both parties in medical malpractice cases to have the best possible experts available to testify in support of their position. Obviously two such witnesses are better than one. However, even if William had only one qualified witness, he might have avoided summary judgment, tames v. Wairmu, 5468, 55118--P.3d--(5/27/2011)-NV

Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo. JD. is a nationally recognized authority on health care law Practicing law for over 40 years. he concentrates in health care law with the Rhode Island firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States In addition to his writings as Editor of Medual Law 's. Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Regan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals A prolific writer, his thousands of articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent lawyers. Marquis Who's Who in American Law. Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World
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Title Annotation:Medical Law Cases of Note
Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Medical Law's Regan Report
Article Type:Case overview
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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