On Jan. 15, the ISMA requested permission from the Indiana Supreme Court to appear as an interested party in the case of Preferred Professional Insurance Company v. West.
The ISMA is advocating on behalf of the doctor and his insurance company that the conduct should fall under the protections of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. This case seeks to determine whether administrative and clerical tasks associated with the issuance of a prescription fall under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.
Details of the case
The plaintiff, named West, was injured at work by a co-worker who was prescribed narcotics for pain and under the influence of those narcotics at the time of the incident. Due to a clerical filing error, the treating physician was not aware his patient had received another prescription recently from his on-call colleague. As a result of the oversight, the treating physician cleared the patient to return to work with no restrictions.
After being injured, West sued the physician, arguing that the co-worker was not warned of the risks and side effects of the prescribed medication and should not have been cleared to return to work.
The trial court and the court of appeals both ruled that this incident does not fall under the Medical Malpractice Act and instead, falls under ordinary negligence. The doctor’s insurance company is asking the Indiana Supreme Court to accept the case and overturn that ruling.
If it does not, the $1.25M damages cap does not apply and the Patient’s Compensation Fund will not cover any excess damages beyond the doctor’s individual $250,000 policy.
ISMA support brief
The ISMA’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief explains that “the court’s analysis fails to appreciate the realities of the practice of medicine and the patient-health care provider relationship.”
The exclusion of administrative tasks from the Act is unrealistic, conflicts with existing Indiana law and will “expose healthcare providers to unlimited, uninsured liability, which will have a detrimental effect on the availability of healthcare services in Indiana.”
Watch future issues of ISMA Reports for updates on this case. Contact the ISMA legal department with questions.