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  • Wrongful Death – Liability For Physician Assistant & Supervising Physician Negligence – Hill v. University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers

Sommers Schwartz attorney Kenneth Watkins filed a medical malpractice action on behalf of the estate of a 28-year-old man who died several hours after being wrongly diagnosed with gastroenteritis.

The lawsuit asserts the patient arrived at Hurley Health Services Urgent Care complaining of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, coughing, and headache. Despite the patient having an elevated heart rate and clearly being ill, no tests were performed and no lab work was ordered – not even a nasal swab to determine whether he had the flu. Rather, the physician assistant on duty gave the patient medication for gastroenteritis. The patient was then discharged from the emergency room without the approval of the supervising physician, as required by Michigan law. After being discharged, the patient’s condition quickly deteriorated and he was taken to McLaren Flint Regional Hospital, where he suffered cardiac arrest and died.

Michigan law provides that physician assistants must be supervised and that supervising physicians are responsible for the negligent acts of physician assistants. Thus, the complaint asserts that University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers is liable for the alleged negligence of the physician assistant and the supervising physician because University of Michigan provided the staff at Hurley. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims.

Mr. Watkins has also filed a companion case, Hill v Hurley Medical Center, et al., in Genesee County Circuit Court. That wrongful death complaint alleges Hurley staff negligently failed to provide the decedent the basic care he needed and negligently discharged the decedent without the supervising physician’s approval.

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