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Tentative Ruling
Judge Donna Geck
Department 4 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107

CIVIL LAW & MOTION

Marilyn Gonzales et al vs Sansum Clinic et al

Case No: 1402839
Hearing Date: Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Motion: Summary Judgment

MOTION: Statement of Facts Dr. Blum did not request, receive, or review Marilyn Gonzales’ prior mammograms and mammogram reports before her mammographic study of April 23, 2008. He was not involved in any way with the decision to order or have her undergo screening mammograms on that date. His only involvement with her mammographic studies taken on 4/23/08 was that, on 4/24/08, he electronically authenticated Dr. Osburn’s report on the study. He did not read or interpret any of the films obtained on 4/23/08. The only purpose of authenticating the report was to check for spelling and grammatical errors, as well as to check for obvious discrepancies on the face of the report; it was not to attest to the accuracy of the findings contained in the report. He was not required to review the films taken on 4/23/08 to electronically authenticate the report on the study. He appropriately and properly authenticated Dr. Osburn’s report on the 4/23/08 study. He met the standard of care with respect to plaintiff. No act or omission by Dr. Blum caused any injury to Marilyn Gonzales. Argument First, the standard of care in medical negligence cases must be proven by expert testimony, unless the conduct required by the particular circumstances is within the common knowledge of the layman. Landeros v. Flood (1976) 17 Cal.3d 339, 410. Where a defendant’s expert testimony is uncontradicted, there is no triable issue of fact, and the defendant must prevail as a matter of law. Willard v. Hagemeister (1981) 121 Cal.App3d 406, 417. Second, Dr. Blum is entitled to summary judgment on the alternative grounds of standard of care and causation. The standard of care in a medical malpractice case requires that the healthcare providers exercise in diagnoses and treatment that reasonable degree of skill, common knowledge or care ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the medical profession under similar circumstances. Munro v. Regents of the University of California (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 977, 983-984. As set forth in defendant Blum’s declaration, he did not request, receive, or review any of plaintiff’s prior mammogram films or reports before her 4/23/08 mammographic study. He had nothing to do with the decision to perform a screening mammographic study on 4/23/08. He did not read or interpret any of the films from plaintiff’s 4/23/08 study. His only involvement was that he electronically authenticated the report on it, which had been dictated by Dr. Osburn. Further, as set forth in the declaration of June W. Chen, M.D., Dr. Blum properly electronically authenticated Dr. Osburn’s report on the 4/23/08 mammographic study, and met the standard of care. Further, it is Dr. Chen’s opinion that Dr. Osburn accurately read and interpreted the 4/23/08 study. No conduct by Dr. Blum caused or contributed to plaintiff’s injuries. Evidence Counsel’s declaration largely authenticates obtaining and providing to June W. Chen, M.D. the relevant films and reports with respect to plaintiff’s mammographic studies on 9/29/11, 3/7/03, 8/15/05, 4/23/08, 1/5/11, and 5/9/11; the ultrasound study of 5/19/11; the reports on the 4/23/08, 1/5/11, and 5/9/11 mammographic studies, the 5/19/11 ultrasound study, and the 5/19/11 MRI. The declaration of June W. Chen, M.D. sets forth her training and experience, and attaches her curriculum vitae. She is currently the medical director of the Women’s Imaging Services at the Breast Care and Imaging Center of Orange County, regularly reviews and reports on radiographic films of breasts, and is familiar with the standard of care for those who read, interpret, and authenticate mammograms. She identifies the studies she was provided and reviewed. The 4/23/08 study was ordered by Sandra Wilson, M.D., and interpreted by Andrew W. Osburn, M.D., who dictated his report of the study. The report was transcribed on 4/24/08, and electronically authenticated by Dr. Blum on that date. The report’s conclusion was of “Benign Negative Findings,” and recommended follow-up in one year. Plaintiff was referred by Alan R. Hersh, M.D. and underwent a screening mammographic study at Sansum Clinic on 1/5/11, interpreted by Cynthia Withers M.D., which concluded “Benign Findings. No mammographic evidence of malignancy.” On referral from George Wright, P.A., plaintiff underwent a diagnostic mammogram of the left breast at Sansum Clinic on 5/9/11, interpreted by Patrick Wheelock, M.D., which revealed an 8 mm solid, irregularly bordered mass, and recommended a biopsy. Plaintiff underwent an ultrasound on the same date, also interpreted by Dr. Wheelock, which corresponded to the mammographic findings, and also recommended biopsy. On 5/19/11, plaintiff underwent an MRI of the left breast at Pueblo Radiology, interpreted by Daniel T. Fox, M.D. on 5/19 and approved on 5/20/11 by Dr. Blum, revealing a left breast mass/large enhancing lesion. Categorized as 4C-Suspicious for malignancy. Dr. Chen was advised that plaintiff underwent a simple mastectomy of the left breast on 5/24/11, and underwent adjuvant therapy. Based upon her education, training and experience as a radiologist in the community, Dr. Chen opines that Dr. Blum met the standard of care with respect to plaintiff. He did not request, receive, or review any of her prior mammograms or mammogram reports before the 4/23/08 study, did not order that the 4/23/08 study be a screening one, and did not read or interpret any of the 4/23/08 films. They were read and interpreted by Dr. Andrew Osburn, who dictated a report on 4/23/08, which was transcribed on 4/24/08, and was then authenticated by Dr. Blum. The purpose of authenticating a mammogram report is to check for spelling and grammar errors, as well as to check for obvious discrepancies on the face of the report itself. The standard of care does not require the authenticator to review the films. Dr. Blum met the standard of care of radiologist in the community in authenticating Dr. Osburn’s report. She has reviewed the mammogram films of 4/23/08, and also has the professional opinion that Dr. Osburn accurately interpreted them as showing benign negative findings. Therefore, no act or omission by Dr. Blum caused any injuries to plaintiff. The declaration of Gary M. Blum M.D. establishes that he did not request, receive, or review any of plaintiff’s mammograms or reports before the 4/23/08 study, was not involved in the decision to have her undergo a screening v. diagnostic mammogram on 4/23/08, and his only involvement was to electronically authenticate the report by Andrew Osburn, M.D. He did not read or interpret any of the 4/23/08 films. The only purpose of authenticating the report is to check for spelling and grammatical errors and check for obvious discrepancies on the face of the report; it is not to attest to the accuracy of the findings. PLAINTIFFS HAVE FILED A NOTICE THAT THEY ARE NOT OPPOSING THE MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT The motion is granted. The evidence submitted in support of the motion establishes that Dr. Blum was not involved in ordering, obtaining, reading, reviewing, or reporting upon plaintiff’s 4/23/08 mammographic studies. His only involvement was in the electronic authentication of Dr. Osburn’s report from the 4/23/08 studies, which does not entail or require reading the films or verifying the accuracy of the report. Rather, its purpose is to check for spelling, grammar, and obvious discrepancies on the face of the report. As a result, nothing which Dr. Blum did had any causal relationship to the injuries sustained by plaintiff. Dr. Blum has also provided expert declaration testimony that his conduct was at all times within the standard of care. The evidence is sufficient to establish Dr. Blum’s entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the undisputed facts presented. Plaintiff has opted not to oppose the motion. As a result, it is appropriate for the court to enter summary judgment in Dr. Blum’s favor in this action. Tentative Ruling: The motion for summary judgment is granted.