Attorney Ben Schwartz explains why if a primary care physician refers a patient to a specialist and the specialist then commits malpractice, is the referring PCP liable? This is a question about a Delaware medical malpractice case.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we have a question from an attorney to an attorney. This is from Robert in Pennsylvania. Robert sent in an email and he said, “If a primary care physician refers a patient to a specialist and the specialist then commits malpractice, is the referring PCP liable?” This is a question about a Delaware medical malpractice case. The answer is, probably not. There was a Delaware Supreme Court decision that came out, the number of the case was 102, 2011. The case was captioned Deborah L Spicer versus Abimbola Osunkoya, M.D. and it came out November 15, 2011.
Essentially what the Delaware Supreme Court said was that in this case, a primary care physician was not responsible for catastrophic injuries sustained by a patient that resulted from the negligence of a surgeon. Basically, the patient went to a primary care physician, was having some medical problems and got referred to a specialist. The surgeon’s actions resulted in severe and catastrophic results for that patient. The patient’s family brought a lawsuit and the Delaware Supreme Court said that the family doctor who made the referral to the surgeon was not responsible; he was not liable for causing the injuries. The reason was that he did not have any reason to think that the surgeon was going to commit malpractice. The law in Delaware, generally speaking, is that the referring PCP is not responsible for the negligence of the specialist, absent some extraordinary circumstances.
So I hope that answers the question. If you are an out of state attorney and you have questions about Delaware law, send me an email below. If I can help you, I will be more than happy to. Thanks for watching!