Patient not notified that doctor was an independent contractor: Court of Appeals

In Ford v. Jawaid, 22A04-1506-CT-575, 2016 Ind. App. LEXIS 95, the Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed the summary judgment and ruled that a man was never notified that the doctor treating him was an independent contractor and not an employee of the hospital. The man’s vicarious liability case has been remanded back to the trial court.

In 2009, Robert Ford experienced pain and swelling in his leg and was then diagnosed with a large blood clot. He was then admitted to the Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services where he was treated by Dr. Shad Jawaid and was released after two days. Later, he got treated at different hospitals as well, but still continued having health issues due to the blood clot.

In 2011, Ford filed a medical malpractice complaint and later in 2013, amended it with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The medical review panel in its inquiry found out that Jawaid failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care, and that his conduct was a factor, but the hospital was not found to be at fault for Ford’s injuries.

Later in 2014, Ford filed a medical malpractice complaint against the hospital and the hospital filed for summary judgment. Ford submitted plenty of evidences to support his claims, which were mostly struck down post motions from the hospital. Subsequently, the court granted hospital’s motion for summary judgment and Ford appealed.

While deciding the case, the Court of Appeals stated that the trial court did not err in dismissing most of Ford’s evidence because each of the documents was unsworn and unverified. Ford had also claimed hospital’s direct liability for negligence. However, the plaintiff needed expert testimony in order to prove negligence and Ford did not have any. Thus, Court of Appeals held that the court was right in granting summary judgment on the negligence claim.

However, the Court of Appeals also found out that granting summary judgment to the hospital on Ford’s vicarious liability claim was not justified, as Ford was not properly informed that Jawaid was not an employee but an independent contractor at the hospital. Although, Ford signed a form that mentioned that some doctors may be independent contractors and not employees at the hospital, it failed to mention which doctors would be independent contractors. The hospital authorities also failed to inform Ford about the same.

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