An example for medical malpractice cases around the country, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is hearing an appeal this week regarding a medical malpractice case that could determine whether or not a doctor’s “error in judgment” is not negligence. For Passarello v. Grumbine, the jury sided with the physician in 2009, based on this defense. Since that point, however, a similar case, Pringle v. Rapaport, used this defense but was appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which reversed the lower court’s decision.

For Pringle v. Rapaport, the judge told the jury: “[P]hysicians who exercise the skill, knowledge and care customarily exercised in their profession are not liable for a mere mistake of judgment. […] Under the law, physicians are permitted a broad range of judgment in their professional duties, and they are not liable for errors of judgment unless it is proven that an error of judgment was the result of negligence. And folks, as a general proposition that applies in any case, doctors or physicians do not guarantee a cure to their patients, and negligence should not be presumed from the occurrence of an unfortunate result.”

The higher court, on the other hand, found the “error of judgement” statement confuses juries and should not be included in a medical malpractice case, as it adds a subjective element and blocks them from truly determining whether or not the physician provided the appropriate standard of care.

For Passarello v. Grumbine, the ruling for Pringle v. Rapaport could be retroactively applied. Handling the case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will determine if retroactive application of the Pringle v. Rapaport ruling is congruent with existing case law, but as points out, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could also strike down Pringle v. Rapaport and determine “error in judgment” an acceptable defense.

Roughly 195,000 people in the U.S. die from preventable, in hospital errors, according to a HealthGrade study that examined 37 million patient records from 2000 to 2002. Preventable errors caused about 98,000 deaths. Patients, additionally, are not always informed of the medical errors, according to a report from the American Association for Justice. Half of doctors, as well, do not report incompetence or medical errors.

Medical malpractice encompasses failure to diagnose conditions, surgical errors, birth injuries, and any other doctor’s action or inaction resulting in injury or death. For medical malpractice case in Connecticut, Trantolo & Trantolo provides the aggressive representation needed to obtain records and facts and, ultimately, just compensation.