Smith v. Providence Health & Services – Oregon

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 05-11-2017
  • Case #: SC S063358
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

In Oregon, “[A] loss of a substantial chance of a better medical outcome can be a cognizable injury in a common-law claim of medical malpractice.”

Plaintiff (Patient) appealed the trial court’s dismissal of Patient’s complaint with prejudice in favor of the doctors who attended to him, their respective medical groups, and the hospital in which he was treated (Defendants). The Court of Appeals affirmed. Smith v. Providence Health & Services – Oregon, 270 Or App 325, 347 P3d 820 (2015). On review, Patient argued that the Court of Appeals had “erroneously rejected loss of chance as a separate compensable injury.” Defendants contended that a “loss of chance” theory of injury or harm was incompatible with Oregon common-law medical negligence cases. In Oregon, “[A] loss of a substantial chance of a better medical outcome can be a cognizable injury in a common-law claim of medical malpractice.” In this case, Patient alleged that the Defendants negligently caused him the loss of a 33 percent chance of treatment that would have resulted in the recovery from his stroke with no or reduced complications. The Supreme Court held, as a matter of first impression, that under the circumstances alleged in Patient’s complaint, a medical negligence claim based on a loss-of-chance theory is a cognizable injury under Oregon common law. Reversed and remanded.

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