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October 25th, 2012

Res Ipsa Loquitur in a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Case Involving a Broken Catheter

Res Ipsa Loquitur in a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Case Involving a Broken Catheter

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is pretty rare. In Latin, it means, “the thing speaks for itself.” In other words, the  negligence is obvious. In medical malpractice cases, one of the only times a patient could potentially use this theory is when a surgical instrument is left inside the body. However, in a recent Pennsylvania Superior Court medical malpractice case, the patient-plaintiff sued her surgeon based upon a fragment of a pain pump catheter which was left in her shoulder. She required an additional surgery to remove the fragment.

In Vazquez v. CHS Professional Practice, the patient-Vazquez, tried to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur and failed to obtain a  medical expert opinion backing up her case. The trial court and the Superior Court did not allow her to use the doctrine and instead, found in favor of the surgeon. The crux of the case was Vazquez’ inability to prove that the surgeon had actually committed malpractice. Instead, she simply relied on the broken fragment as the sole proof of malpractice. This is why she lost.

Medical Device Medical Malpractice Cases in Pennsylvania

Simply pointing to a broken medical device, like a catheter, is not enough to prove malpractice. Malpractice in Pennsylvania is a deviation from the requisite standard of care. Medical devices do break in the absence of negligence. The catheter could have been defective, causing it to break. This is a common issue in any case involving a medical device – proving that the device failed due to the doctor’s negligence, not due to a product defect. Read more about medical devices and proving negligence in a Pennsylvania medical malpractice case.

Related Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Legal Article: Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Medical Devices

For more information, contact a Pennsylvania medical malpractice and surgical error lawyer.

Our medical malpractice attorneys serve victims in the following areas: Allegheny County, PA; Berks County, PA; Bucks County, PA; Chester County, PA; Delaware County, PA; Lehigh County, PA; Montgomery County, PA; Northampton County, PA: Philadelphia County, PA; Atlantic County, NJ; Burlington County, NJ; Camden County, NJ; Cumberland County, NJ; Gloucester County, NJ; Salem County, NJ; New Castle County, DE; he County, DE; Atlantic City, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Newark, NJ; Doylestown, PA; Media, PA; West Chester, PA; Norristown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Newark, DE; Georgetown, DE; and New Castle, DE. Our lawyers can obtain special admission in other states on a case by case basis.

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