Successful Verdicts

Sullivan V. Edward Hosp

Can a physician offer expert, opinion evidence as to the nursing standard of care?
That was the issue recently before the Illinois Supreme Court. In September, 2003, TAANA submitted an Amicus brief to the Illinois Supreme Court in the case of Sullivan V. Edward Hosp. The brief was drafted after almost two years of research by members of the Litigation Section and was written by Karen Butler, Chair of the Litigation Section. The Chicago Chapter, particularly, Leatrice Schmidt, reviewed and submitted the brief. On February 5, 2004, The Illinois Supreme Court issued a decision. The issue, in brief, was whether a physician, who is not a nurse, should be permitted to offer, expert, opinion evidence, as to the standard of care for nurses. The TAANA position is that nurses, and only nurses, have the authority and responsibility to define the scope and practice of nursing. The Illinois Trial Lawyers also submitted an Amicus Brief arguing that physicians can do anything a nurse can do and, therefore, a physician can always testify as to the standard of care for nurses. Citing extensively to the TAANA brief and also to the authorities cited by TAANA, the Court ruled that only a nurse is qualified to offer opinion evidence as to the nursing standard of care. The Litigation Section would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chicago Chapter, Leatrice Schmidt and those members of the Chicago Chapter who traveled to Springfield in November to hear oral arguments. We would also like to thank the law firm of Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Johnson and Butler for underwriting the cost of researching and preparing the brief for submission. We anticipate that we will publish both the TAANA brief and the decision in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Nursing Law and look forward to sharing these resources with our members.

For copies of the decision in Sullivan v. Edward Hosp. please contact our office.

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