Define the phrase, “Common Law”. Explain how it is different from Statutory Law, or Administrative Regulations. Review one of the “Common Law” cases listed in the index of our Text, pages 297-321. Discuss how that “Common Law” decision has impact on the quality of care offered to patients in the USA. [For example, see on page 308 of the text, the case “Helling v. Carey.” It is shown in italic as are all the cases listed in the text book index. In this case it refers you to page 238 that will give you a discussion of that case.
Helling (plaintiff) met with her ophthalmologists (defendants) on several occasions will suffering from angle glaucoma a condition where fluids do not discharge from the eye. In order to diagnose this condition, a pressure test is normally administered. However, the medical standard for this test is normally applied to people over the age of forty years old. Plaintiff was less than forty years old so the defendants did not administer the test. After years of seeing the defendants, it was determined the plaintiff was suffering from glaucoma when the doctors previously thought it was irritation from a contacts lens. Plaintiff filed suit for negligence for permanent damage caused to her eye as a result of failing to diagnose the plaintiff earlier.
Despite the fact that the defendants complied with the standards of the medical profession are they still liable?
Yes. The court emphasizes that although the standard protects people over the age of forty and only one in 25,000 people suffers from such a condition, the one person deserves the same equal protection as other persons.
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