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A physician is required to possess and exercise, in both diagnosis and treatment, that reasonable degree of knowledge and skill which is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of his profession in similar circumstances.
In this medical malpractice action plaintiff Gita Landeros, a minor, appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered upon an order sustaining general demurrers to her amended complaint. The complaint alleged that Landeros, an 11-month-old girl, was taken by her mother to defendants for diagnosis and treatment of a leg fracture which gave the appearance of having been caused by a twisting force. The mother had no explanation for the injury. It was further alleged that Landeros was suffering from other injuries at the time, all of which gave the appearance of having been intentionally inflicted by other persons, and that after her release by defendants she suffered permanent injury due to subsequent beatings at the hands of her mother and the mother's common law husband. The first cause of action alleged negligence in failure to diagnose and treat Landeros’ "battered child syndrome," which treatment would have included reporting her injuries to local law enforcement authorities or the juvenile probation department. The second and third "causes of action" were predicated on defendants' failure to comply with Pen. Code, §§ 11160, 11161, 11161.5, requiring doctors and hospitals to report certain injuries to the authorities.
Did the trial court err in sustaining the demurrer of the doctor and hospital to Landeros’ malpractice suit?
The court agreed with Landeros noting first that Landeros was returned to parental custody after having been treated for injuries not appearing to be accidental, and that she then was traumatically abused. Because it was unclear whether treating physicians should have recognized the syndrome, Landeros was entitled to prove by expert testimony the standard of care against which appellees were to be held. And as appellees could not escape liability if it was foreseeable that Landeros would suffer further injury, Landeros was entitled to prove that appellees' conduct proximately caused her injuries, even if the parent's intervening act was the actual cause. Finally, Landeros was entitled to show that appellees failed to exercise due care in not reporting her injuries to authorities who would have shielded her from further harm.