An appellate court released an opinion in a medical malpractice claim brought by the estate of an individual who died while in the care of a hospital. In the case, a man was admitted into the hospital after complaining of severe right side pain. He was given narcotic pain medication but had a bad reaction to it, and it was discontinued. About two days later, another doctor at the hospital prescribed a different pain medication. When the nurses arrived in the morning, the man was found lying across his bed and was unresponsive.
Unfortunately, attempts to rescue him were unsuccessful, and he passed away. The hospital contacted the family, and the man’s wife claimed that the hospital improperly obtained her consent to perform a private autopsy. The family brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and claimed that the hospital failed to notify the medical examiner. However, this claim was brought three years after the death. A jury did not find against the hospital on the medical malpractice claim but did find that the hospital improperly obtained consent.
The lower courts all concluded that the autopsy claims were not health care claims, and thus the statute of limitations did not bar that lawsuit, but the medical malpractice claim was past the statute of limitations.