• June 11, 2012

A patient’s CRP level after a medical procedure spiked, a strong signal of an infection needing immediate attention (that’s “c-reactive protein,” discussed in footnote 2, here) but nothing was immediately done.  An infection progressed and a leg amputation was eventually required due to potentially fatal gangrene setting in.

The lawyers for defendant physician, Dr. Richard D. Schmidt, however, argued that plaintiff did not have proof that the doctor knew that the patient’s CRP was “significantly abnormal” at the time when that knowledge would have made the difference.  

However, courts (and juries) know that it is hard to come up with “direct evidence” of what someone “knows” at a particular point in time.  The justice system therefore allows for “circumstantial evidence” for proof of such things.

And this is how Reid Rischmiller, counsel for plaintiff, Larry Prantner, cleared the pre-trial hurdle interposed by defense counsel, Mark Hardy, before Sr. U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle (D. Minn.).  Prantner’s counsel could not come forward with direct evidence of Dr. Schmidt’s awareness of Mr. Prantner’s dramatically increased CRP level, but plaintiff did find evidence from which a jury could find knowledge through circumstantial evidence.

And this, Judge Kyle found, is close enough for government work (an expression, by the way, which, at least accoridng to one source, has evolved to mean the opposite of its original meaning).

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