An expert witness needed for the jury to understand the issues

An expert witness needed for the jury to understand the issues

You Be the Judge

Mrs. M. was admitted to an acute care facility for removal of a noncancerous brain lesion. Following her surgical procedure, she had problems swallowing, but no difficulty with respirations and breathing. On x-ray, her lungs showed no signs of congestion or infiltration. She was receiving humidified oxygen via an oxygen mask.

During transport from her hospital room to x-ray for a repeat chest film, the humidifier attached to her oxygen line was allowed to lay on its side, allowing water to accumulate and enter the patient’s lungs. The sole person who transported Mrs. M. to the x-ray department was an untrained patient transporter. The patient subsequently experienced aspiration pneumonia and was readmitted to the intensive care unit.

Following her recovery, the patient brought suit for the mishandling of the oxygen humidifier, subsequent aspiration pneumonia, and additional recovery time. At the trial, the patient transporter admitted that he had received no training regarding the transportation of patient receiving humidified oxygen and was not aware that there were any special precautions needed for transporting a patient who was receiving humidified oxygen. The plaintiff’s attorney presented no expert witness testimony regarding professional standards for patient transporter. The court ruled in favor of the medical center, noting that expert testimony was required. The patient appealed. (Guido, p. 71)

Questions:

  1. Was an expert witness needed for the jury to understand the issues being tried?
  2. Did the patient transporter’s testimony negate the need for expert testimony regarding standards for patient transporter when the patient was receiving humidified oxygen via an oxygen mask?
  3. If it was determined that expert testimony was needed, what type of qualifications would you have chosen for the expert in this case?
  4. How would you decide the appeal?

 

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