Friday, November 16, 2012

Alberts v. Schultz case brief

Alberts v. Schultz
975 P.2d 1279 (New Mexico 1999)

-P went to the D, saying that he had a pain in his leg (even when he did not move).
-D did not order an arteriogram and did not conduct any other tests. 
-D did not make P see a specialist right away. 
-2 weeks later, P saw a specialist and was ordered an immediate arteriogram and a bypass surgery was unsuccessful.  As a result, the leg had to be amputated.
-Expert testimony stated that D was negligent in not ordering an arteriogram and promptly referring P to a specialist.  Also, the specialist was negligent in waiting for a day to perform surgery.
-The passage of even a short amount of time could mean the difference between success and failure in this type of case.
-Amputation would not be necessary only if P had suitable arteries (information was not in patient record).
-The expert also testified that the doctor's negligence significantly decreased the chances of saving the P’s leg, but the expert could not conclude to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that, in the absence of negligence, P’s leg could have been saved.

In a lost chance cause of action, must a plaintiff show, to a reasonable degree of medical probability that the doctor’s negligence caused a diminution in the chance of recovery?


-The court decided that, in this case, the P did not show to a reasonable degree of medical probability that the doctor’s negligence cause a diminution in the chance of recovery:
-The negligence of the doctors could have only reduced the P’s chances of recovery if the P actually had a chance at recovery
-In order to have had a chance at recover, the P must have had suitable artery for bypass
-Here, the P did not establish that a successful bypass would have precluded amputation, P did not establish that arteries were suitable for bypass at the time he went to see the first doctor or the day before the specialist performed the failed attempt at bypass.

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