Virginia: Patient Falls – a Lawyer’s Cap

Virginia: Patient Falls – a Lawyer’s Cap

On October 5, 2015, the Court handed down its Letter Opinion in the medical malpractice suit Peck v. Riverside Hosp., Inc. No. CL1400873V-04 in Newport News, Virginia. It granted in part and deferred ruling in part on Riverside Defendants’ Motion for Determination of Applicability of Virginia Medical Malpractice Act.

Specifically the Peck patient fall opinion determined that Plaintiff’s claim of Inadequate staffing by Riverside Defendants was covered by the Medical Malpractice Act’s “cap” on damages. Plaintiff in Peck was a known high fall risk, yet was assured she could go to the bathroom unassisted by her nurse, who was attending another patient’s blood sugars (which usually were handled by a nurse assistant who called out); fell and was injured severely; and has undergone 3 surgeries and $300,000.00 in medical expenses.

On Plaintiff’s companion issue of whether the unlicensed Unit Clerk involved in wrongfully assuring the high fall risk patient is covered by Virginia’s Medical Malpractice Act, the Peck Court “must defer this determination until trial.” Plaintiff in the Peck patient fall case asserted that the unlicensed Unit Clerk is the sole or at least joint employee of Defendant, Riverside Healthcare Association, Inc., (“RHAI”), based on the Unit Clerk’s paystubs, the disciplinary forms and the patient’s chart; and that RHAI is not covered by the Virginia Medical Malpractice Act, thereby bringing the Unit Clerk (or at least RHAI) within the “cap” exception of Taylor v. Mobil Corp., 248 Va. 101 (1994).

THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR REQUIRES ALL LAWYERS TO POST THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMERS ON ALL CASE-RELATED POSTS. MR. WATERMAN’S CASE RESULTS AND CLIENT TESTIMONIALS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. THEY DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE BY HIM.