Witt v. St. Vincent's Medical Center

In Witt v. St. Vincent's Medical Center, 252 Conn. 363, 370, 746 A.2d 753 (2000), the plaintiff claimed that the defendant pathologist negligently failed to warn him that certain tissue analysis performed by him revealed that the plaintiff was suffering from a dangerous medical condition. In 1983, the defendant had examined a tissue sample and issued a report in which he did not describe the plaintiff's condition as serious. The plaintiff alleged that he had relied on that diagnosis. Eleven years later, in 1994, the plaintiff discovered that the condition that the defendant had evaluated in 1983 was, in fact, life threatening. Additionally, there was evidence that the defendant had told the plaintiff's treating physician in 1994 that there was a concern at the time of the original diagnosis that the plaintiff suffered from a life threatening condition and that the defendant believed that a follow-up examination would be appropriate. The plaintiff argued that the defendant's initial 1983 report was not complete and that the defendant's subsequent 1994 communication to his physician, expressing concern for the plaintiff's condition as of the time of the diagnosis, evidenced the defendant's awareness that the plaintiff was at an increased risk. The Court concluded that the plaintiff had demonstrated that the defendant knew of a specific risk to the plaintiff in 1983 and failed to communicate that risk to the plaintiff. The court stated that the evidence that the defendant had knowledge of the risk "gave rise to the defendant's continuing duty to warn, which in turn triggered the continuing course of conduct doctrine." Id. at 372.