The Georgia Court of Appeals in Byrom v. Douglas Hospital, Inc., A16A0937 (Ga. App. October 4, 2016) expanded the scope of ordinary negligence claims in the hospital setting. The Court found that where a medical professional failed to follow the manufacturer instructions on a wheelchair for safe use of the wheelchair, no expert testimony is necessary. Numerous medical devices are used in the hospital that have manufacturer’s instructions that go into great detail on proper use of the device. These instructions are intended to limit the manufacturer’s liability and many times go far beyond what the actual standard of care requires.
We anticipate that the Plaintiff’s bar will use this decision to try and expand the concept of ordinary negligence in the hospital setting. However, the facts in this case limits the scope of the ruling. The Court noted that no medical expertise is required to use a wheelchair and persons with no medical training often push persons in a wheelchair. It also noted that use of equipment inconsistent with the manufacturer’s instructions without more does not constitute a medical malpractice claim. This language can be used to limit the application of the case.