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Medical professionals are subject to the medical-malpractice standard of care when engaged in conduct requiring medical judgment or training or involving scientific judgments, but subject to the reasonable-person standard of care when not furnishing medical treatment to patients. An action involving medical negligence that necessarily flows from a therapeutic relationship, rather than administrative or policy-making functions, is considered to fall within the purview of medical-malpractice laws. Likewise, the requirement that medical-expert testimony establish the standard of care is inapplicable when the acts or omissions complained of are within the general knowledge and experience of lay persons. Claims involving nonmedical, administrative, custodial or routine functions may not require a medical expert to establish the standard of care.
Ms. Calcagno was admitted to Monticello-Big Lake Community Hospital on the evening of January 17, 2008, to be induced to give birth. After several hours of unsuccessful labor, Dr. Olson, Ms. Calcagno's obstetrician, decided to perform a cesarean section. Dr. Olson delivered a healthy baby boy on January 18, 2008, at 6:50 p.m. After the birth, Ms. Calcagno was stable, but her uterus was "suggestive of atony," a condition in which the uterus muscle does not contract and continues to bleed. Dr. Olson and hospital staff administered drugs and uterine massage to address the atony.
Was there sufficient evidence establishing breach of the higher, medical-negligence standard of care?
The court held that the jury verdict in favor of the deceased patient's spouse and against the hospital was proper because the district court's charge to the jury, viewed as a whole, was not an incorrect statement of the law. Further, even assuming that the jury instructions were erroneous, any error was not prejudicial because the spouse presented extensive evidence establishing breach of the higher, medical-negligence standard of care. Additionally, the damage award was not excessive.