The plaintiffs-appellants appeal from the trial court's order granting a directed verdict in favor of the defendants-appellees in a wrongful-death action.
In the early morning hours on October 6, 1986, Sharon Jewett, then nine months' pregnant, telephoned her obstetrician, defendant-appellant Francis J.
Over the next several months, Brandon experienced difficulties, including infection and an inability to swallow. On May 26, 1987, he died.
In their single assignment of error, the plaintiffs allege that the trial court erred in granting a directed verdict in favor of the defendants. In support of this assignment, the plaintiffs argue that the evidence adduced at trial, particularly the testimony of their medical expert, Dr. Garth Essig ("Essig"), was of sufficient probative value to raise an evidentiary controversy concerning whether Froehlich was negligent and whether his negligence was the proximate cause of Brandon's death. Moreover, the plaintiffs maintain that the trial court, in directing the verdict in favor of the defendants, improperly weighed the evidence and tried the credibility of the witnesses.
The defendants, on the other hand, contend that a directed verdict in the instant case was proper because the plaintiffs failed to present evidence of a prima facie medical malpractice case against Froehlich.
After reviewing the transcript of the proceedings in the instant case, we are constrained to agree with the plaintiffs that the trial court improperly assessed the credibility of the witnesses prior to directing a verdict in favor of the defendants. However, recognizing that "a reviewing court is not authorized to reverse a correct judgment merely because erroneous reasons were assigned as the basis thereof," Joyce v. Gen. Motors Corp. (1990), 49 Ohio St.3d 93, 96, 551 N.E.2d 172, 174, we will undertake the task of determining whether the evidence presented by the plaintiffs raised triable questions of fact concerning whether Froehlich was negligent in caring for Jewett prior to delivery of Brandon and whether his negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiffs' damages.
In order to establish medical malpractice, it must be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the injury complained of was caused by the doing of some particular thing that a physician of ordinary skill, care, and diligence would not have done under like or similar conditions or circumstances, or by the failure or omission to do some particular thing that such a physician would have done under like or similar conditions or circumstances, and that the injury complained of was the direct and proximate result of such doing or failing to do such particular thing. Bruni v. Tatsumi (1976), 46 Ohio St.2d 127,
In the instant case, the defendants maintain that the trial court properly granted their motion for a directed verdict because the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence at trial that Froehlich, in treating Jewett, departed from those standards of care promulgated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ("ACOG").
During the presentation of their case below, the plaintiffs called Dr. Essig, a board-certified obstetrician, who testified that Froehlich should have responded to the hospital subsequent to the administering of the Pitocin to periodically monitor Jewett's condition; that Froehlich should have performed the Cesarean section when bradycardia was first detected by the fetal monitor; that an intrauterine catheter should have been utilized by Froehlich to monitor the situation; that Froehlich departed from acceptable standards of care in his treatment of Jewett; and that Froehlich's departure from the proper standards of care was the proximate cause of Brandon's death. Essig did concede during cross-examination that the standards announced by ACOG are the minimal accepted standards for his specialty. This observation was supported by the testimony of Dr. Levine and Dr. O'Grady, expert medical witnesses called on behalf of the defendants. Moreover, while Essig did admit that the ACOG standards did not require the use of an intrauterine catheter in all cases and, further, that the Cesarean section was performed within the acceptable period of time (thirty minutes) set forth under the ACOG standards, he was adamant that the decision to perform the Cesarean section should have been made at or near the time that bradycardia was first detected by the fetal monitor and that Froehlich's delay in making that decision was a departure from acceptable standards of care. Although Levine and O'Grady disagreed with Essig's assessment of Froehlich's performance, we are convinced that the plaintiffs did, in fact, adduce evidence at trial that Froehlich departed from the acceptable standards of care in treating Jewett.
Evid.R. 703 provides that:
"The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by him or admitted in evidence at the hearing."
"Data" is defined as "[o]rganized information generally used as the basis for an adjudication or decision" or "organized information, collected for specific purpose." Black's Law Dictionary (5 Ed.Rev.1979) 356.
In the instant case, after reviewing the record, we are convinced that the neonatologist's impression that Brandon suffered from "severe birth asphyxia" was a "learned statement of an observable condition falling under the definition of `data' or organized information." See Blakeman v. Condorodis (1991), 75 Ohio App.3d 393, 599 N.E.2d 776. Moreover, the hospital records containing the statement at issue were admitted into evidence at trial. We conclude, therefore, that Essig's testimony was not violative of Evid.R. 703. Likewise, contrary to the assertions of the defendants, we are not persuaded that Essig's testimony regarding the proximate cause of Brandon's injuries was speculative or devoid of foundation. Essig testified that he had reviewed various depositions, hospital records and fetal-monitor tracings and that based upon those sources, as well as his knowledge, training and experience as a physician, he was able to conclude that there was a proximate causal relationship between Brandon's asphyxia, brain damage and subsequent death and Froehlich's departure from the proper standards of care in treating Jewett. We conclude, therefore, that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it overruled the defendants' motion to strike Essig's testimony. State v. Finnerty (1989), 45 Ohio St.3d 104, 543 N.E.2d 1233.
Accordingly, after construing the foregoing evidence most strongly in favor of the plaintiffs, we hold that reasonable minds could not come to but one conclusion upon the evidence submitted and that the jury below should have been permitted to pass on the questions of whether Froehlich acted negligently and whether that negligence was the proximate cause of Brandon's death. Strother v. Hutchinson (1981), 67 Ohio St.2d 282, 21 O.O.3d 177, 423 N.E.2d 467.
Judgment reversed and cause remanded.
GORMAN, P.J., SHANNON and HILDEBRANDT, JJ., concur.