Helling V. Carey

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Helling V. Carey by Mind Map: Helling V. Carey

1. Facts

1.1. Ms. Barbara Helling suffers from primary open angle glaucoma. Such a condition results in pressure gradually rising above the normal level to such an extent that damage is produced to the optic nerve and its fibers with resultant loss in vision.

1.2. Ms. Helling first consulted the defendants for myopia, nearsightedness, in 1959. On the October 1968 consultation r. Carey, tested the plaintiff's eye pressure and field of vision for the first time. This test indicated that the plaintiff had glaucoma.

1.3. At 32 years of age, Ms. Helling had essentially lost her peripheral vision and her central vision was reduced to approximately 5 degrees vertical by 10 degrees horizontal.

2. Issue

2.1. Was the appropriate standard of care provided to Ms. Helling?

3. Rule of Law

3.1. Defendants established that the standards of the profession for that specialty in the same or similar circumstances do not require routine pressure tests for glaucoma upon patients under 40 years of age

3.2. Standards of the profession do require pressure tests if the patient's complaints and symptoms reveal to the physician that glaucoma should be suspected

3.3. Case would not require doctors to comply with a higher duty of care than that ‘degree of care and skill which is expected of the average practitioner Pederson v. Dumouchel, 72 Wash. 2d 73, 79, 431 P.2d 973 (1967).

4. Analysis

4.1. Does compliance with the standard of the profession of ophthalmology insulate them from liability under the facts in this case where the plaintiff has lost a substantial amount of her vision due to the failure of the defendants to timely give the pressure test to the plaintiff

4.2. Dr. Carey revealed Ms. Helling probably had glaucoma 10 years or longer

4.3. The court reintrepreted the law to reach its conclusion

4.4. The compelling facts: The reasonable standard that should have been followed under the undisputed facts of this case was the timely giving of this simple, harmless pressure test to this plaintiff and that, in failing to do so, the defendants were negligent

4.5. The court sited the following cases: Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Behymer, 189 U.S. 468, 470, 23 S.Ct. 622, 623, 47 L.Ed. 905 (1903) & T. J. Hooper, 60 F.2d 737, on page 740 (2d Cir. 1932)

5. Conclusion

5.1. The reasonable standard that should have been followed under the undisputed facts of this case was the timely giving of this simple, harmless pressure test to this plaintiff and that, in failing to do so, the defendants were negligent

5.2. Strict liability or liability without fault is applicable. Wigmore, Responsibility for Tortious Acts: Its History, 7 Har.L.Rev. 315, 383, 441 (1894).

6. Impact/Importance/Influence

6.1. When a disease can be successfully detected by a well-known harmless and inexpensive test, its better to aire on the side of caution- especially when the effects are irreversible if undetected over a substantial period of time.

6.2. In the healthcare profession many medical providers over prescribe tests to potentially avoid being accused of negligence. Health care professional standards of care are regional.

6.3. This case is cited in State V A.NJ (2010) & Ranger Ins. Co. v. Pierce County (2008)