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Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds “Two Schools of Thought Doctrine”

In the case Sensenich v. Morcos, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that unnecessary stenting procedures were performed on him. In addition, the plaintiff further alleged that the defendant, as well as other physicians from Westmoreland County Cardiology (WCC), had established a pattern of excessive and unnecessary stenting with other patients.

A Westmoreland County judge instructed the jury on the “two schools of thought doctrine,” which the plaintiff alleged was improper, because it was not applicable to the claims in the case.

Despite this flawed instruction, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the Westmoreland County jury’s verdict that ruled in favor of the defendant.

Two Schools of Thought Doctrine

Depending on a patient’s specific medical condition, there may be multiple treatment options, all of which are considered effective by experienced medical professionals. It is up to the physician to determine which treatment approach makes the most sense for the patient.

The “two schools of thought doctrine” states that when the chosen treatment option does not accomplish its goal, or compromises the patient’s health in any way, the fact that the physician chose one healthcare approach over the other does not make the decision negligent. In addition, juries should not be expected to determine which of the two acceptable treatment options should have been performed by the physician.

The jury found that the defendant obtained consent from the plaintiff to perform the stent procedure, that there was no battery, and the treatment was not performed negligently. In addition, the jury found that there was no corporate negligence involving Excela Health or civil conspiracy among the defendants.

Superior Court Findings

The Superior Court ruled that although the Westmoreland County judge’s “two schools of thought doctrine” instruction was flawed, it ultimately did not sway the jury, who ruled in favor of the defendant. The Pennsylvania Superior Court, made up of a three-judge panel, upheld the Westmoreland County jury’s verdict.

According to a judge from the three-judge Superior Court panel, the defendants succeeded in shifting the focus to the way that the stenting was performed, rather than whether the arteries should have been stented at all. The two schools of thought involved healthy-to-healthy stenting versus spot stenting. The trial judge recognized that the two methods of stenting did not impact the defendant’s decision to place a stent in a vessel that was insufficiently occluded to warrant that intervention.

The Superior Court further found that the only claims upon which the jury reached a verdict were for the unnecessary stenting claims, for which the “two schools of thought doctrine” were not applicable, and the Trial Court specifically instructed the jury to not apply the doctrine to those claims.

The plaintiff’s lawyers may file a petition for reargument.

Philadelphia Malpractice Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Seek Justice for Victims of Medical Errors

If you or a loved one have been injured while under the care of a healthcare professional, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia malpractice lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will help you navigate the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected at all times. Our experienced team will seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices of conveniently located in Philadelphia, where we serve clients across southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and New Jersey.