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Paetsch v. Spokane Dermatology Clinic, PS

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

March 12, 2015

Phyllis Paetsch , Petitioner ,
v.
Spokane Dermatology Clinic, PS, et al. , Respondents

Reconsideration denied July 8, 2015.

Argued: September 9, 2014.

Mary E. Schultz (of Mary Schultz Law PS ), for petitioner.

William F. Etter and Ronald A. Van Wert (of Etter McMahon Lamberson Van Wert & Oreskovich PC ); and Mary H. Spillane (of Fain Anderson VanDerhoef PLLC ), for respondents.

George M. Ahrend and Bryan P. Harnetiaux on behalf of Washington State Association for Justice Foundation, amicus curiae.

AUTHOR: Justice Charles K. Wiggins. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Steven C. González, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Justice Mary I. Yu.

OPINION

Wiggins, J.

Page 390

[182 Wn.2d 844] ¶ 1 The plaintiff in this medical malpractice case asks us to decide that a physician-patient relationship is formed when a patient enters into a written contract with a clinic and that written contract names a specific physician as the patient's doctor. We do not reach this issue because the jury instructions allowed the plaintiff to argue her theory of the case and the jury found that the defendant was not negligent.

¶ 2 Several novel issues lurk in the question brought by the plaintiff, including questions about the liability of a physician for actions undertaken by a certified physician's [182 Wn.2d 845] assistant and whether the plaintiff in a medical malpractice action must prove a physician-patient relationship in order to prevail in a medical malpractice suit under chapter 7.70 RCW. [1] We do not opine on these issues because they were not raised by the parties and are not presented here. [2]

FACTS

I. Factual history

¶ 3 Plaintiff Phyllis Paetsch was referred to Spokane Dermatology Clinic for Botox injections to smooth facial wrinkles. Paetsch had never heard of the clinic, had never been there before, and was not aware of the staff or medical reputation of the clinic. She made an appointment for treatment and was told that her appointment would be with Dan Rhoads.

¶ 4 Spokane Dermatology Clinic is a professional services company owned solely by Dr. William Werschler. The clinic also employed Dr. Scott Smith as a dermatologist and three certified physician's assistants (PA-Cs): [3] Julia Bowan, Frank McCann, and Dan Rhoads. The clinic's business card listed each individual by name and title.

Page 391

¶ 5 Paetsch arrived at the clinic for treatment on February 26, 2007. She was presented with a medical history form and a patient profile form. This paperwork stated that [182 Wn.2d 846] her doctor was " Wm. Philip Werschler, M.D." and asserted that " Dr. Werschler and/or Dan Rhoads" had informed her of the risks of the procedure. Paetsch completed and signed the forms, was escorted to her ...


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