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Strickholm v. Anonymous Nurse Practitioner

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 21, 2019

Peter Strickholm, Leila Strickholm (Mother and Guardian), and Alfred Strickholm (Father and Guardian), Appellants/Petitioners,
v.
Anonymous Nurse Practitioner, Appellee/Respondent, and Anonymous Practice Group and Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance, Third-Party Appellees/Respondents.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Michael D. Keele, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D07-1802-MI-4253

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Fred Schultz Gerald Mayer Greene & Schultz Bloomington, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR AMICUS CURIAE INDIANA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION Jerry Garau Garau Germano, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE ANONYMOUS NURSE PRACTITIONER Robert C. Brandt Courtney David Mills Riley Bennett Egloff LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          BRADFORD, JUDGE.

         Case Summary[1]

         [¶1] On December 1, 2015, Anonymous Nurse Practitioner ("Anonymous NP") saw Peter Strickholm at Anonymous Practice Group in Bloomington and prescribed Lisinopril-Hydrochlorothiazide ("Lisinopril-HCTZ") to control his high blood pressure. On December 8, 2015, Peter returned to Anonymous Practice Group, and a licensed practical nurse ("LPN") checked his blood pressure and noted it in an electronic report. On December 11, 2015, at the latest, Anonymous NP reviewed the report and approved it without ordering any further testing or any other change in Peter's course of treatment. On December 15, 2015, Peter was admitted to a hospital with low sodium levels and suffered cardiopulmonary arrest the next day, resulting in permanent cognitive impairment.

         [¶2] On December 4, 2017, Peter and his parents/guardians, Alfred and Leila Strickholm (collectively, "the Strickholms"), filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance ("IDOI"). On February 1, 2018, Anonymous NP filed her petition for preliminary determination of law and summary judgment in the trial court. On March 1, 2019, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Anonymous NP, concluding that the designated evidence established that Anonymous NP did not provide any medical care to Peter after December 1, 2015, thus rendering the Strickholms' complaint late by three days. The Strickholms contend, inter alia, that the trial court abused its discretion in entering summary judgment because there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Anonymous NP provided medical care to Peter after December 4, 2015. Because we agree, we reverse and remand for trial.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On October 29, 2015, the then-fifty-seven-year-old Peter saw Anonymous NP for an "Establish New Patient" visit at Anonymous Practice Group to establish her as a primary-care provider. Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 60. Peter's blood pressure during the visit was 164/96 mmHg. On December 1, 2015, Peter returned to Anonymous Practice Group for a "Comprehensive Care Visit[, ]" and his blood pressure this time was 176/94 mmHg at 8:05 a.m. and 179/100 mmHg at 8:25 a.m. Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 58. Anonymous NP prescribed Lisinopril-HCTZ to Peter to control his high blood pressure and recommended that he return for a blood pressure check the next week.

         [¶4] On December 8, 2015, Peter again returned to Anonymous Practice Group for a "Nurse Check" to have his blood pressure checked. Although there is some dispute as to whether Anonymous NP was present that day, the blood pressure check was conducted by an LPN. Peter's blood pressure was 140/110 mmHg. The LPN electronically conveyed the test result to a physician in the office. The physician responded electronically and stated, "systolic much improved but diastolic still high, would recheck in 1-2 weeks and if still elevated then increase lisinopril[.]" Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 214. On December 11, 2015, at the latest, Anonymous NP electronically reviewed and approved the LPN's report of the "Nurse Check" but did not recommend any further testing or treatment at the time. Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 56.

         [¶5] On December 15, 2015, Peter arrived at the Bloomington Hospital emergency room with altered mental status. Peter was diagnosed with, inter alia, hyponatremia, or low sodium. Peter was admitted, and the next day he suffered cardiopulmonary arrest in the Hospital's intensive-care unit. Peter was revived, but he had suffered a hypoxic event which caused cognitive impairment.

         [¶6] On December 4, 2017, the Strickholms filed their proposed complaint against Anonymous NP with the IDOI. The Strickholms alleged medical negligence, specifically that Anonymous NP had breached the relevant standard of care in her treatment of Peter up to and through at least December 8, 2015, causing harm to Peter Strickholm. On February 1, 2018, Anonymous NP filed her petition for preliminary determination of law and summary judgment in the trial court. Anonymous NP alleged that the cause of action filed by the Strickholms was not timely filed and alleged that the last day she provided any health care to Peter was December 1, 2015, when she prescribed the Lisinopril-HCTZ.

         [¶7] On February 6, 2019, the trial court heard argument on Anonymous NP's motion for preliminary determination of law and summary judgment and, on March 1, 2019, granted summary judgment in favor of Anonymous NP. Id. at 12, 13. The trial court concluded that the designated evidence established as a matter of law that Anonymous NP did not provide any medical care to Peter after December 1, 2015, thus rendering the Strickholms' complaint late by three days. Specifically, the trial court concluded that (1) the continuing-wrong doctrine did not apply to Anonymous NP's single act of prescribing Lisinopril-HCTZ to Strickholm; (2) Anonymous NP did not provide any health care to Peter on ...


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