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Blood Draw Statute Violation Testimony Not Precondition to Jury Instruction In Malpractice Action Against Clinic


A driver who was injured in a single-car accident shortly after having blood drawn for a glucose tolerance test, sued the clinic where the blood was drawn, alleging that allowing the plaintiff to leave the clinic in an obviously unwell state was medical malpractice. The plaintiff was in a hypoglycemic condition following the test, which involved five blood draws over a three hour period, and was observed by clinic staff to be weak, unsteady and sweating. Upon leaving the clinic the plaintiff drove into a utility pole. Subsequent analysis of the last blood drawn prior to the plaintiff leaving the clinic showed an abnormally low glycemic level.

 

At trial, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health statute governing the standards for the collection of blood was admitted into evidence, and the testimony of several witnesses implicated a potential violation of the statute, but no witness specifically opined that the statute was violated. The plaintiff argued that the statute represented the standard of care, so a finding that the statute was violated would be evidence of negligence. When requested to instruct the jury as to the significance of a jury finding of a failure to comply with a safety statute or regulation, the court declined to do so, ruling that direct testimony from a witness that a violation had occurred was a precondition to the jury instruction. The appellate court held that no such precondition exists and that failure to inform the jury as to the legal significance of the regulation constituted reversible error.  Campbell v. Cape & Islands Healthcare Services, Inc., 81 Mass.App.Ct. 252, (Mass.App.Ct. Feb 07, 2012).

 

 

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