The New Mexico court of appeals just made its mark on New Mexico medical malpractice cases. The recent decision will likely affect medical malpractice cases in Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Gallup and the rest of New Mexico.
The case involved a 21 year old New Mexico man who was riding on a medical rescue helicopter as part of a hospital training exercise. A fatal accident reportedly occurred as a result of the pilot’s negligence and hot dogging. The 21 year old died as a result of the accident and his family brought a New Mexico wrongful death claim against the hospital, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center.
A complicated record resulted in two jury verdicts and a recent Court of Appeals decision regarding the duty for a hospital to inquire as to the safety of its helicopter pilots. The defense contended that it was sufficient to rely solely on the helicopter pilot’s FAA approval without doing an adequate safety investigation. The New Mexico court found otherwise and held that the hospital was required to perform a safety investigation of the operator.
The case is interesting in that it may be available for future New Mexico medical malpractice and negligence cases, and may pave the way for broader New Mexico negligent hiring cases. The decision may go further to holding New Mexico hospitals accountable for the negligent conduct of their employees, whether they be contracted pilots, nurses, surgeons, or therapists. It is the New Mexico public that will benefit the most if hospitals are required to look a little closer and whoever they choose to conduct business with.