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Federal malpractice suit against Mount Nittany Medical Center dismissed

A Port Matilda man has lost his federal lawsuit over allegations about elective surgery in 2012 at Mount Nittany Medical Center but has the opportunity to pursue a medical malpractice case in state court.

U.S. Middle District Judge Malachy Mannion on Monday dismissed the claims Brian Baney brought under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and declined to exercise jurisdiction over state claims of professional malpractice but said they could be filed in state court.

Baney, whose wife, Vicky, also was a plaintiff, was admitted to Mount Nittany on July 19, 2012, for an elective cervical spine procedure. During surgery, he suffered a serious injury to his esophagus.

The suit claimed he was not properly stabilized and no arrangements were made to transport him immediately to a facility where cardiothoracic surgeons were available, in violation of EMTALA. He was transferred to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center July 26.

In dismissing the suit, Mannion wrote that EMTALA forbids hospitals from refusing to treat individuals with emergency conditions but that the law does not cover cases of hospital negligence.

There was no allegation Baney’s elective surgery was an emergency and EMTALA does not cover the claim Mount Nittany failed to transfer him timely, the judge wrote.

The alleged emergency condition was really a complication of the elective surgical procedure Baney was undergoing, the opinion stated.

There is no allegation Mount Nittany and its staff failed to stabilize Baney before his transfer to Hershey, the judge wrote.

The Baneys are improperly relying on EMTALA to try and create a federal malpractice claim, Mannion said.

Five Mount Nittany doctors or staff, others identified only as John or Jane Doe, Mount Nittany Physician Group, Mount Nittany Surgical Center, Penn State Hershey Medical Group, Penn State Hershey Health System Inc., Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute and the Penn State Hershey Neuroscience Institute also were named defendants in the suit.

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