[MMA News Now, Sept. 12, 2013]
The Minnesota Supreme Court has denied a petition to rehear Dickhoff v. Green, the case that recognizes “loss of chance” as a cause of action for medical malpractice.
In June, multiple parties, including the MMA, petitioned the Supreme Court to rehear the case. The court’s 3-2 decision reversed law that has held that a physician may only be liable for harm that a patient actually incurs. Under the old law, in order to prevail on a claim for medical malpractice, a patient had to establish that the physician’s negligence more likely than not caused the patient’s claimed harm. Now, because of the Supreme Court ruling, a medical malpractice claim may prevail if a patient establishes merely that the physician’s negligence made survival or recovery less likely – even if survival is unlikely in the natural course of the disease.
Petitions for rehearing are not often granted; but the attorneys involved in this case believed there was a reasonable basis to seek a rehearing. Because the case was not reheard, the original ruling stands and “loss of chance” cases may proceed in Minnesota courts.