State Supreme Court Affirms in Part and Reverses in Part Judgment of the Trial Court Granting Summary Judgment in Favor of Defendants in a Physical Therapy Negligence Case

During a physical therapy session following her hip surgery, Anita Hanson began to experience increased pain in her leg. The pain did not subside and hospital staff later diagnosed her with a fractured femur.

Hanson and her husband brought a lawsuit against the physical therapy company and the hospital. It was alleged in the lawsuit that the physical therapist was negligent during the physical therapy session, that the hospital was negligent in choosing not to timely diagnose the fractured femur, and that Hanson was injured as a result of the negligence of both the hospital and the physical therapist. The defendants separately moved for summary judgment. The plaintiffs, Anita Hanson and her husband Marvin Hanson, filed an appeal.

On Sept. 8, 2014, Anita Hanson underwent a right total hip arthroplasty. The surgeon, Dr. Michael Vener performed the surgery. After the surgery, Dr. Vener took x-rays, which confirmed a properly placed artificial joint. The x-ray did not reveal any fractured bones.

Hanson remained in the hospital until Sept. 11, 2014. While there, she was seen by a physical therapist and reported no problems. John Lightfield, a physical therapist employed by Big Stone Therapies Inc. examined her after her arrival at a different hospital for post-operative rehabilitation. The physical therapist also examined her after her arrival. The physical therapist noted that during his evaluation, Hanson had no pain and had some tightness in her groin area.

Later that evening, an employee of the rehabilitation hospital helped Hanson into bed. She heard a pop in her groin area, which she later claimed did not cause her significant pain.

The next morning, Hanson reported to a hospital nurse that she did not have any pain but continued to experience “pulling” in her groin area. The physical therapist provided physical therapy services to her in the morning and afternoon. Hanson did inform the physical therapist, Lightfield, about the popping noise she experienced the night before.

Later, she was diagnosed with a fractured femur after a physical therapy session following her hip surgery. It was alleged in the lawsuit by Anita Hanson and her husband that the physical therapist was negligent during the physical therapy session and that the hospital was negligent in choosing not to timely diagnose the fractured femur.

The circuit court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. However, the Supreme Court held that (1) the circuit court correctly granted the hospital summary judgment because plaintiffs were required to, but did not, support their claim with proper expert testimony; and (2) there was sufficient evidence in the record to create a material issue of fact concerning whether the physical therapist deviated from the required standard of care. Accordingly, the court reversed the summary judgment as to the physical therapist and Big Stone Therapies Inc. and returned the case for further disposition on that defendant alone.

Hanson v. Big Stone Therapies Inc., et al., 2018 S.D. 60 (July 25, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence lawsuits, hospital negligence cases, birth trauma injury cases and traumatic brain injury lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including River Forest, Bensenville, Joliet, Aurora, St. Charles, Geneva, Winfield, Bartlett, Warrenville, Des Plaines, Winnetka, Buffalo Grove, Chicago (South Shore, Kenwood, Highwood, Hyde Park, Wrigleyville, DePaul University, Rogers Park, Englewood), Gurnee, Round Lake Beach, Inverness, Itasca and Waukegan, Ill.

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