LESLIE MILLIUN v. NEW MILFORD HOSPITAL et al., SC 18845

Judicial District of Waterbury

 

†††† †Medical Malpractice; Expert Medical Opinion Evidence; Whether Written Medical Opinions on the Issue of Causation were Admissible in the Absence of Live Expert Testimony.† While in the care of the defendant hospital, Leslie Milliun allegedly suffered severe respiratory dysfunction, which damaged her cognitive functioning.† Thereafter, she received treatment for her cognitive injuries at the Mayo Clinic.† Her conservatrix subsequently brought this action, claiming that the brain injuries were caused by the hospitalís negligence.† In order to establish the cause of Milliunís cognitive impairments, the conservatrix sought to introduce certain medical records from the Mayo Clinic, which contained the medical opinions of Milliunís treating physicians.† These medical records, the conservatrix opined, could serve as a sufficient substitute for live expert testimony on the issue of causation.† The trial court disagreed, determining that, in the absence of live testimony, the Mayo Clinic records did not constitute sufficient expert medical opinion on causation because they were predicated on the opinions of laypeople and inadmissible hearsay.† The court explained that the medical opinions were based exclusively on Milliunís and the conservatrixís impressions of the incident that occurred at the hospital. †The hospital later filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the conservatrix had failed to submit sufficient expert testimony on the issue of causation.† The trial court agreed and granted the motion.† On appeal, the conservatrix maintained that the trial court improperly determined that the medical records were inadmissible.† The Appellate Court (129 Conn. App. 81) agreed, emphasizing that, pursuant to General Statutes ß 52-174 (b), a party may introduce the signed report of a treating physician as a business entry in lieu of live expert testimony.† The court added that a physicianís medical opinion is admissible even if it is based on a patientís hearsay statements where, as here, the statements were made for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment.† The court also determined that, even if the treating physiciansí opinions were based in part on lay opinions, their final conclusions were reached only after they had independently performed comprehensive medical examinations and had reviewed an investigative report from the department of health regarding Milliunís hospitalization.† Accordingly, the Appellate Court concluded that the medical reports were improperly excluded and that the reports demonstrated that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether the hospitalís alleged malpractice was causally connected to Milliunís cognitive injuries.† In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Courtís decision was correct.