Bavedas v. Middlesex Health System Inc.
A written opinion may be sufficient for a medical institution, if the opinion is sufficient for one agent of the medical institution. In 2009, Thomas Bavedas, a patient at Connecticut Valley Hospital, allegedly experienced a seizure. An ambulance was sent to Connecticut Valley Hospital. En route to the hospital, the ambulance siren allegedly failed. Bavedas experienced another seizure. A second ambulance was sent to Connecticut Valley Hospital. Both ambulances were used to transport Bavedas, who experienced another seizure and passed away. The plaintiff, estate administrator, sued, alleging that the defendant, Hunter's Ambulance Services, was negligent and failed to ensure its equipment worked properly; that the first ambulance was equipped; that an ambulance and life support arrived within a reasonable period; and that information was relayed by the emergency dispatcher. Hunter's Ambulance filed a motion to dismiss and argued the plaintiff did not comply with Connecticut General Statutes §52-190a, which requires a written opinion from a "similar healthcare provider." Hunter's Ambulance argued the writer of the opinion, an emergency medical technician, did not qualify as a similar health care provider to an emergency medical dispatcher. Superior Court Judge Grant Miller wrote in Bennett v. Manchester Hospital, a 2012 decision, "The majority of superior court decisions . . . hold that the written opinion letter is sufficient for the medical institution if it is sufficient for at least one agent or employee of the medical institution." The court rejected the defendant's claims that the opinion writer, who had been certified as an EMT approximately 20 years and had obtained certification as an instructor in advanced cardiac life support, did not belong to the same school of healthcare as the emergency dispatchers. "[T]he defendant's argument," wrote the court, "attempts to create a [subspecialty] within the emergency medical services discipline and require an opinion letter for each self-created [subspecialty] from every single employee who might have been negligent." Also, even if the plaintiff were correct that the EMT's opinion was insufficient with respect to emergency dispatchers, allegations about emergency dispatchers sounded in ordinary negligence, as opposed to medical malpractice, and C.G.S. §52-190a did not apply.