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Kevin Ronan, M.D. and v. Sanford Health D/B/A Sanford

February 1, 2012

KEVIN RONAN, M.D. AND PATRICIA RONAN,
PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
SANFORD HEALTH D/B/A SANFORD HOSPITAL, SANFORD CLINIC, BRADLEY E. HRUBY, M.D., WENDELL W. HOFFMAN, M.D., RICHARD D. HARDIE, M.D., AND DAVID A. THOMAS, M.D.,
DEFENDANTS AND APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE PATRICIA C. RIEPEL Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbertson, Chief Justice

#25813-a-DG

ARGUED OCTOBER 3, 2011

[¶1.] A doctor and his wife filed suit against Sanford Health and several of its treating physicians (collectively "Defendants") alleging medical malpractice. The jury entered a verdict for Defendants. The plaintiffs appeal two evidentiary rulings. We affirm.

FACTS

[¶2.] In 2006, Dr. Kevin Ronan was an anesthesiologist practicing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dr. Ronan vacationed in Phoenix, Arizona with friends from February 21 -- 26, 2006. On the evening of March 8, 2006, Dr. Ronan began to feel ill. The next day he went to see his physician, who suspected Dr. Ronan had the flu.

[¶3.] Dr. Ronan's condition worsened and he went to the emergency room on March 10. He was seen by various physicians, including Dr. Bradley E. Hruby. Dr. Ronan was admitted to the hospital and given antibiotics. He was referred to a specialist in infectious diseases. The specialist's diagnosis recognized that Dr. Ronan might have coccidioidomycosis (cocci), or "valley fever." Cocci is a fungal disease endemic in the southwestern United States.*fn1 The specialist was unable to confirm the diagnosis, as tests for cocci often come back negative during the first few days of an infection.

[¶4.] Despite his failure to significantly improve, Dr. Ronan was released from the hospital. Dr. Ronan continued to suffer high fevers, chills, headaches, chest pains, rashes, and neck stiffness.

[¶5.] Throughout March, Dr. Ronan was referred to more physicians, including another infectious disease specialist, Dr. Wendell Hoffman. Despite repeated inquiries by the Ronans, Dr. Hoffman did not immediately order further diagnostic tests to determine if Dr. Ronan had cocci. Dr. Ronan's condition worsened and he began to develop breathing problems. After another visit to the emergency room, he was treated with steroids. His condition did not improve. Eventually, Dr. Richard Hardie, a pulmonologist, recommended a lung biopsy and ordered diagnostic blood tests. Dr. Ronan ultimately had a lung biopsy before the results of the blood tests returned.

[¶6.] On March 28, 2006, Dr. Hoffman informed the Ronans that the blood tests confirmed that Dr. Ronan had cocci. Since his diagnosis, Dr. Ronan has continued to have severe medical problems. Dr. Ronan and his wife filed suit against Defendants, alleging medical negligence in failing to properly and timely pursue a diagnosis. The Ronans also allege negligence in administering steroids to a patient with acute, undiagnosed, and untreated cocci. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants.

[¶7.] On appeal, the issues presented are:

1. Whether the circuit court abused its discretion in excluding alleged statements made by employees of Defendants under SDCL 19-12-14.

2. Whether the circuit court erred in precluding the impeachment of a ...


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