SW Legal studies in Business

Injured Party May Sue Physician for Malpractice if Improper Care of Tortfeasor Patient Was Proximate Cause of Injury
Description SW Legal Virginia high court held that under an act passed by the legislature, a health care provider may be liable to a party injured by a patient of the health care provider if the negligent care is the proximate cause of the injury suffered by the third party.
Topic Torts
Key Words Malpractice; Third Parties; Statutes
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Members of the Hubbard family were killed or injured when their car was hit by a car driven by Hoosier. Blood tests on Hoosier showed the presence of drugs prescribed by his physician, Dr. Srichai. Investigation showed that Srichai prescribed an improper and large number of pain management pills, including Codeine and Valium. The Hubbards sued Srichai, alleging malpractice for negligent prescription of a controlled substance to a patient who should not have had the drugs. The court affirmed that there was good evidence that Srichai dispensed drugs known to cause dependency without good reason. The federal court that had the case before it asked the high court of SW Legal Virginia to clarify state law on this liability issue.
Decision

The SW Legal Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act permits a third party to bring a cause of action against a health care provider for foreseeable injuries that were proximately caused by the health care provider's negligent treatment of a tortfeasor patient. So long as a plaintiff established the elements of proof required by the Act, the health care provider may be found liable.

Citation Osborne v. U.S., 567 S.E.2d 677 (Sup. Ct., W.Va., 2002)

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