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There is a presumption that a doctor, or other health care professional, has performed his medical duties with the requisite care and skill. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show both a lack of the requisite skill or care on the part of the doctor and that such want of skill or care was a direct cause of the injury; and if proof of either of these elements is wanting the case is not a proper one for submission to the jury. The degree of skill required is not the highest or greatest, but only such as is ordinarily exercised by others in the profession generally. The mere fact that an unsuccessful result follows medical treatment is not of itself evidence of negligence.
The patient, who had a host of physical and emotional problems, also developed carpal tunnel syndrome -- a condition that caused pain in the wrist and muscle weakness in the hand. The surgeon recommended surgical treatment. The nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist over-anesthetized the patient and the surgery was cancelled. A jury entered judgment in favor of the surgeon, but entered a verdict for $ 375,000 against the hospital, nurse anesthetist, and anesthesiologist. The trial court granted motions for judgment NOV. The trial court conditionally granted motions for a new trial unless the patient agreed to accept a remittitur of all but $ 50,000.
Did the trial court err in entering the judgments NOV based on its perception that the evidence was insufficient to meet this tripartite test?
The court concluded that the trial court erred in entering the judgments NOV. The court found that the patient proved an injury caused by the negligence of the nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist. Considering the patient's delicate physical and mental condition before the occurrence, along with the fact that the nature, extent, and proximate cause of the patient's post-traumatic complaints were seriously contested by the defendants, the court declined to hold that the trial court abused its discretion by finding the jury's verdict unreasonable in amount.