Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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The Alaska professional licensing division brought an accusation of professional misconduct against doctor David Odom, M.D., alleging that he acted incompetently when he prescribed phentermine and thyroid hormone for one of his patients. The division sought disciplinary sanctions against the doctor. Following a hearing, an administrative law judge issued a proposed decision concluding that the division had failed to show that the doctor’s conduct fell below the standard of care in his field of practice and that no disciplinary sanctions were warranted. But the Medical Board instead adopted as its decision the proposal for action submitted by the division and revoked the doctor’s medical license. On appeal to the superior court, the case was remanded to the Board for consideration of the doctor’s own late-filed proposal for action. The Board reaffirmed its decision to revoke the doctor’s medical license, and the superior court affirmed that decision. The doctor appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court. Because the Medical Board’s decision to revoke the doctor’s medical license was not supported by substantial evidence, the Court reversed the superior court’s affirmance of that decision. View "Odom v. Alaska Div. of Corporations, Bus. & Prof. Licensing" on Justia Law

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Appellant Sean Wright, a former inmate of the Alaska Department of Corrections (DOC) who was incarcerated at an out-of-state correctional facility under contract with DOC, filed a medical malpractice and 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights action against officials employed by the out-of-state correctional facility and by DOC. The civil rights claims alleged that the corrections officials were deliberately indifferent to Wright's medical needs. The superior court granted summary judgment dismissing the medical malpractice action as barred by the two-year statute of limitations. Subsequently the court granted summary judgment on the deliberate indifference claims against the inmate. In the course of the proceedings, Wright unsuccessfully sought to have the superior court judge removed for alleged bias. Wright appealed these decisions. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wright v. Anding" on Justia Law

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Dr. Michael Brandner suffered a heart attack in September 2009 and was admitted to Providence Alaska Medical Center for emergency bypass surgery. Dr. Kenton Stephens was the cardiac surgeon who performed the operation; Dr. Robert J. Pease administered anesthesia. Dr. Brandner was also a medical doctor, licensed to practice plastic and reconstructive surgery. Bradner sued the anesthesiologist and medical providers involved in the surgery. The superior court dismissed Bradner’s claims on summary judgment, concluding that Bradner had offered no admissible evidence that the defendants breached the standard of care or caused the patient any injury. On appeal Bradner relied on his expert witness’s testimony that certain surgical procedures were suboptimal and that patients generally tended to have better outcomes when other procedures are followed. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that this testimony was insufficient to raise any issue of material fact regarding whether the defendants had violated the standard of care in a way that caused injury to the patient. View "Brandner v. Pease" on Justia Law

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A cardiologist performed pacemaker surgery on Gregory Hagen and then ordered an x-ray to check the placement of the pacemaker leads and for complications. A second cardiologist reviewed the x-ray and discharged Hagen from the hospital. A radiologist also reviewed the x-ray, noted a potential “nodule” in Hagen's lung, and recommended follow-up x-rays. But these recommendations were never relayed to Hagen, who died from lung cancer approximately two years later. Hagen's wife Shirley filed a medical negligence suit against the two cardiologists, alleging that their failure to relay the radiologist’s recommendations resulted in a lost chance of survival for Gregory. The superior court granted summary judgment to the cardiologists on the grounds that expert testimony from a board-certified cardiologist was required to establish the standard of care and that the Estate had failed to identify such an expert. On appeal of that order, the Estate argued there was a genuine issue of material fact whether the cardiologist who ordered the x-ray later received the radiologist’s report. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the Estate did not show how this issue was material to the superior court’s decision regarding the necessity of expert testimony to establish the standard of care. Accordingly, the Court affirmed. View "Hagen v. Strobel" on Justia Law

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The State provided prisoner Dewell Pearce extensive medical care during his incarceration. Around the time of his release from custody, Mr. Pearce won a medical malpractice judgment against the State. The State paid part of the judgment, but relying on a reimbursement statute, withheld the medical care costs associated with conditions unrelated to the malpractice claim. The State then sought a declaratory judgment that it was entitled to reimbursement from Mr. Pearce for treatment of the unrelated conditions. The superior court ruled that the statute in question did not authorize the State to seek reimbursement from former prisoners no longer in custody. The State appealed. Upon review of the superior court record and the applicable statute, the Supreme Court found that the superior court misinterpreted the law. The Court reversed the superior court's ruling and vacated the judgment. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Alaska Dep't of Corrections v. Hendricks-Pearce" on Justia Law