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MN Supreme Court: Malpractice Ruling has Doctors Concerned

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled a doctor can be sued for malpractice even if he or she is not directly treating a patient. The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled a doctor can be sued for malpractice even if he or she is not directly treating a patient. |  Photo: WDIO/MGN

Updated: May 27, 2019 03:54 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A malpractice ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court is causing angst in the state's medical and legal communities.
    
The high court recently ruled a doctor can be sued for malpractice even if he or she is not directly treating a patient. The decision involves an Iron Range case in which a hospital doctor allegedly refused to admit a patient who was being treated by a nurse practitioner. The physician based his decision on a 10-minute telephone call. The patient died several days later.

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According to the Star Tribune report, the woman who died went to the Essentia Health clinic in Hibbing. A nurse practitioner there reportedly called the Fairview Medical Center and asked to have her admitted. The doctor at Fairview did not authorize her admission, and she was sent home. Her son found her deceased three days later. 
    
The Star Tribune reports the patient's family sued in 2016, but both the district and appeals court dismissed the lawsuit because the doctor was not directly treating the patient. The Supreme Court, in a decision last month, said such a relationship was not necessary to sue.
    
Medical groups say the opinion could subject doctors to more lawsuits. The Star Tribune talked to a chief medical officer for a hospital group, who said it could result in higher healthcare costs.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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