Patenaude v. Norwalk Hospital
The opinion of a similar health care provider who opines that the defendant was negligent, and who fails to indicate that the author was active in the practice or teaching of medicine within five years prior to the incident, may be insufficient. Allegedly, the plaintiff's decedent went to Norwalk Hospital on June 12, 2007, was diagnosed with intestinal blockage, underwent surgery and left the hospital on June 14. The plaintiff's decedent fell, broke her hip and was re-admitted to the hospital. On July 29, the plaintiff's decedent complained about stomach pain. An X-ray disclosed a bowel obstruction. The plaintiff's decedent passed away, and the official cause of death was pneumonia secondary to a bowel obstruction. The plaintiff sued and alleged that the hospital failed to diagnose and treat the bowel obstruction promptly and to monitor respiration and vital signs after morphine was administered. A registered nurse provided a written opinion in which the nurse claimed to be "familiar with the standard of care as it relates to the practice of nursing" and opined that the defendant hospital was negligent. The defendant hospital moved to dismiss and claimed that the written opinion was insufficient. "[D]ismissal is the mandatory remedy when a plaintiff fails to file an opinion letter that complies with §52-190a(a)." The opinion writer must be "licensed by the appropriate regulatory agency of this state or another state requiring the same or greater qualifications," pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-184c(b), and also be actively involved in the practice or teaching of medicine within five years prior to the subject incident. The plaintiff proposed to amend the written opinion, to add, "I am a Registered Nurse, licensed in the State of Connecticut with a Master of Public Health degree and am familiar with the standard of care as it relates to the practice of nursing in the year 2007." The amended written opinion failed to indicate the opinion writer was active in the practice or teaching of medicine within five years prior to July 2007. The amended written opinion was insufficient, and the court granted the defendant hospital's motion to dismiss the complaint.