Freed v. Geisinger Med. Ctr., 2006 PA Super 274 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2006)

Plaintiff appealed after the case was non-suited. “From November 6, 1998, to December 3, 1998, Appellant was hospitalized at GMC with spinal cord injuries …. On December 3, 1998, he was transferred to HealthSouth for rehabilitation therapy. At some point, Appellant developed pressure wounds on his buttocks and sacrum. Due to the development of an infection in the pressure wound on his sacrum, he was returned to GMC on January 10, 1999, for therapy, including surgical debridement. He remained at GMC until February 24, 1999, when he was again transferred to HealthSouth. He was discharged to home on May 10, 1999 Decided 9/29/2006.” Plaintiff filed a complaint on December 21, 2000, and an amended complaint on June 25, 2001 against GCM and HealthSouth. Jury trial commenced on September 23, 2003. Plaintiff sought an opinion from a nurse expert regarding the cause of Plaintiff’s pressure ulcers; Defendants’ objected and the trial court sustained the objection, finding that the nurse was not a doctor and was not qualified to render a medical diagnosis. The trial court denied Plaintiffs’ request to recall a physician because his proposed testimony did not possess the requisite degree of medical certainty. During Plaintiffs’ case in chief, portions of depositions given by a physician assistant and a physician were read. Defendants then moved for non-suit and the trial court granted that motion finding that Plaintiffs did not prove a prima facie case because they showed no causal connection between a breach in the standard of care and the development or worsening of pressure ulcers. On appeal, the court found that the trial court committed error by refusing to allow the nurse expert to testify on causation. In Pennsylvania, “to qualify as an expert witness, one must only possess more expertise than is within the ordinary range of training, knowledge, intelligence, or experience.” Reviewing the nurses’ education and experience, which included a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and experience in a hospital and other private facilities providing wound care, the court determined that she was qualified to testify not only on the standard of care, but on causation as well. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow Plaintiff to recall the physician because his proposed testimony did not link the breach in care to causation with reasonable certainty. The depositions Plaintiff read did not supply causation. Due to the court’s refusal to allow the nurse’s testimony, the care was reversed and remanded for trial. Decided: September 29, 2006.

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