Reading test results does not constitute “treatment” as defined in medical malpractice law, and neither does transmitting the report, according to a Pennsylvania Superior Court common pleas judge.
Judge Arnold New, JD, of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, had ordered the transfer of a medical malpractice case from Philadelphia to Berks County because the plaintiff’s allegations regarding an echocardiogram (ECG) allegedly improperly sent by a Philadelphia doctor were not enough to keep the case in the city. The plaintiffs challenged that order and said that reading the ECG constituted treatment, which would qualify, according to a report in The Legal Intelligencer. (The report is available online at http://bit.ly/2c1G0Jz.)
The case involved an infant who was treated in Berks County at Reading Hospital before he was taken to St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia. The plaintiffs had argued their allegations that the baby may have suffered a broken rib at St. Christopher’s Hospital and that a physician had interpreted and signed an ECG at St. Christopher’s. They said these allegations were sufficient to keep the claim in Philadelphia. The judge disagreed and said that interpreting an ECG did not qualify as professional treatment sufficient to keep the claims in Philadelphia.
“The appellate courts have declined to extend the rules pertaining to venue in medical professional liability claims to encompass acts done within a county that do not rise to the level of rendering healthcare services. An untimely transmittal of an echocardiogram report does not rise to the level of rendering healthcare services,” New said, according to court documents obtained by The Legal Intelligencer. “Both asserted negligence directly stemming from the directives given regarding impending medical care, and both were insufficient to establish venue in a medical professional liability claim. Here, the appellants bring it down a notch by alleging an untimely transmittal of the report only.”
The judge also determined that transmitting his report on the ECG to the hospital could not be considered treatment. “Transmittal of a report is an administrative function, not a function of providing medical care,” he said.