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A substantial chance of a better medical outcome can be a cognizable injury in a common-law claim of medical malpractice in Oregon.
After suffering permanent brain damage from a stroke, plaintiff Joseph Smith brought the present medical negligence action, alleging that, because doctors had not taken proper steps to follow up on his complaints of stroke symptoms, he lost a chance for treatment that, in one-third of cases, provided a patient with no or reduced complications following the stroke. Reviewing the complaint on its face, the trial court agreed with defendants that plaintiff had failed to state a claim under Oregon law. The court entered a judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice, which the Court of Appeals affirmed. Plaintiff challenged the decision.
Did Oregon law permit a plaintiff, who has suffered an adverse medical outcome resulting in physical harm, to state a common-law medical negligence claim?
The Court held that plaintiff could bring a medical negligence claim based on a loss-of-chance theory of injury. The Court noted that the plaintiff suffered the physical harm that he might well have avoided had he received proper medical care, and that adverse medical outcome was an essential element of a common-law medical malpractice claim and provided the foundation for a calculation of his damages.