INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) – A decision by the Indiana Supreme Court in a closely watched case on April 7 found in favor of a man pursuing a medical malpractice complaint against a doctor alleged to have failed to adequately care for his wife, resulting in her death.
Billy Turner filed a malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance under the Medical Malpractice Act alleging that Dr. Charles McKeen’s treatment of his wife Rowena was substandard.
Before a plaintiff can pursue a malpractice complaint against a qualified healthcare provider, the Medical Malpractice Act requires the plaintiff to present the complaint to the Medical Review Panel (MRP), which then decides if the health care provider breached appropriate standards of care, the court documents state.
Turner filed a submission to the MRP, including medical records and a narrative statement, alleging that a delay in exploratory surgery after the woman had been readmitted to a hospital had led to her death. The MRP, however, rejected the allegation McKeen had failed to meet proper standards of care.
Turner then filed a complaint in the Monroe County Circuit Court and included a witness list with an expert hematologist who Turner said would testify that McKeen had also failed to prescribe an appropriate dosage of anti-coagulation medication.
McKeen filed a motion to have the hematologist’s opinion thrown out on the grounds Turner’s original submission to the MRP had not alleged malpractice relating to anti-coagulation medication. McKeen contended that Turner sought to pursue the complaint in court without having adequately presented it to the MRP, a violation of law.
The court denied McKeen’s motion, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the decision with a ruling that stated, “A plaintiff may raise any theories of alleged malpractice during litigation following the MRP process if the proposed complaint encompasses the theories, and the evidence relating to those theories was put before the MRP.”
The Indiana Supreme Court agreed that Turner had met the requirements and may pursue his complaint in court. Filing amicus briefs in the case were the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana and state Insurance Commissioner Stephen Robertson.