Salinetro v. Nystrom

341 So. 2d 1059 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1977)



Liability for negligence depends on a showing that the injury suffered by plaintiff was caused by the alleged wrongful act or omission to act by the defendant. Merely to show a connection between the negligence and the injury is sufficient to establish liability.


A patient sustained back injuries that resulted from a car accident. She submitted a personal injury claim through her insurance carrier, which required she have a medical examination. X-rays were taken of her lower back without inquiry as to whether she was pregnant. Unbeknownst to her, the patient was pregnant at the time of the x-ray. Her doctor confirmed the pregnancy after multiple tests and she was advised to terminate pregnancy because the fetus had been exposed. The patient had a therapeutic abortion and the pathology report stated the fetus was dead at the time of abortion. She filed a claim against doctor for medical malpractice. The patient's gynecologist, however, was not qualified by the court as an expert witness and the doctor was granted a directed verdict. The patient contended there was sufficient evidence to present to the jury a prima facie case of malpractice. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal of Florida.


Should the doctor be liable for medical malpractice?




The court held that the directed verdict was proper because the patient did not know she was pregnant. Thus, if the doctor failed to inquire, his act was not the cause directly related to the injury because the x-ray would still have been performed. The gynecologist doctor was not qualified as an expert because the doctor being sued for malpractice was a radiologist.

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