Shimckus v. Norwich Orthopedic Group P.C.
A written opinion from a similar healthcare provider can provide a detailed basis for the opinion that the defendant was negligent, even if the written opinion does not discuss the duration and location of a patient's alleged complaint about pain. On Dec. 3, 2009, the plaintiff's decedent, Carl Shimckus, underwent a surgical procedure for the debridement of his Achilles tendon and deep posterior compartment release. On December 28, Shimckus visited Dr. Salman Zafar and complained about pain. Zafar did not order any procedures or tests. On Jan. 2, 2010, Shimckus collapsed. A postmortem exam disclosed that he suffered thromboemboli in the pulmonary arterial tree and thrombi in the veins of the popliteal fossa and the veins of his leg. The plaintiff administratrix sued Dr. Salman Zafar and Norwich Medical Associates LLC, alleging that Dr. Zafar failed to consider deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism as diagnoses, failed to make a proper diagnosis and failed to properly treat the plaintiff's decedent. A written opinion that accompanied the complaint stated, "In my opinion, there appears to be evidence of medical negligence in the care and treatment of Carl Shimckus by Dr. Zafar in that he breached the applicable standard of care in one or more of the following ways: he failed to consider deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism as a potential diagnosis. . . ." The letter concluded, "In my opinion, one or more of these breaches of the standard of care were a substantial factor in causing Carl Shimckus' death." The defendants moved to dismiss and argued that the written opinion was overly vague and insufficiently detailed, because it did not discuss the duration or location of the pain that Shimckus complained about on December 28. The court found that the written opinion complied with the "detailed basis" requirement in Connecticut General Statutes §52-190a. "This letter," wrote the court, "sets forth the letter writer's opinion as to the applicable standard of care, that the letter writer believes that Zafar breached this standard of care and provides a factual basis for the writer's conclusion that Zafar breached the standard of care."