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Corey v. Wilkes-Barre Hosp. Co., LLC, 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 595, 2023 WL 8534618 (December 11, 2023) (King, J.).

Appellant, Lesley Corey, as administratrix of the estate of Joseph Corey, and Lesley Corey, in her own right, appeals from the judgment entered in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, in favor of Appellee, Wilkes-Barre Hospital Company, LLC, d/b/a Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (“WBGH”). We affirm the judgment and grant the application to dismiss Appellant’s second issue, which was filed by the additional defendant, Pennsylvania Physicians Services, LLC (“PPS”).

The relevant facts of this appeal are as follows. On August 8, 2013, Joseph Corey (“Decedent”) experienced chest pain and difficulty breathing. During the early morning hours of August 9, 2013, Decedent called 911 and requested emergency medical assistance. Ambulances responded to Decedent’s house and transported him to WBGH, where Decedent was treated in the emergency department. Approximately twelve (12) hours later, Decedent was transferred to Milton Hershey Medical Center (“MHMC”). On August 11, 2013, Decedent died at MHMC.

Appellant insists that hospital personnel must “recognize and report abnormalities in the treatment and condition of [their] patients.” (Id. at 35). Appellant relies on the testimony from her liability expert, Dr. Paynter, to establish that hospital personnel recognized Decedent’s deteriorating condition, but they failed to take appropriate actions under the circumstances. Appellant acknowledges WBGH’s argument that the record is “devoid of evidence of [WBGH’s] actual or constructive knowledge of the defects or procedures that caused harm” to Decedent. (Id. at 34). Appellant emphasizes, however, that emergency department personnel knew that Decedent was tachycardic, with falling blood pressure, and elevated respirations. Appellant claims these symptoms were “reported on monitors located in the patient’s room and at the central nurses’ station,” and these monitors provided “actual, continuing notice” of Decedent’s deteriorating condition. (Id. at 36) (emphasis omitted). Moreover, Appellant asserts that “constructive notice must be imposed when the failure to act to receive actual notice is caused by the absence of supervision.” (Id. at 44) (quoting Brodowski v. Ryave, 2005 PA Super 354, 885 A.2d 1045, 1057 (Pa.Super. 2005), appeal denied, 587 Pa. 680, 897 A.2d 449 (2006)). In light of the relevant case law, Appellant argues that Dr. Paynter’s testimony established a deviation from the applicable standard of care. Appellant concludes that the trial court should have submitted her corporate negligence claim to the jury, and the court committed reversible error by granting WBGH’s motion for nonsuit. We disagree.

Here, the court correctly entered a nonsuit on Appellant’s corporate negligence claim. This case did not involve “a kind of systemic negligence” on the part of WBGH. See Ruff, supra; Edwards, supra. The trial evidence centered on the individual decisions and actions of a doctor and nurse in conjunction with their care of a critically ill patient. Our review of the record reveals that Appellant did not provide any expert testimony that Nurse Bond’s medical care of the patient fell below acceptable medical standards to warrant the imposition of constructive notice onto WBGH. See Brodowski, supra. Nurse Bond was providing the medical care that the doctor had ordered for Decedent, and this care led her to observe that Decedent’s systolic blood pressure had dropped. Rather than sitting back and watching Decedent deteriorate, Nurse Bond proactively sought advice from the attending physician on the next steps for treatment.

CONCURRING OPINION BY OLSON, J.: I agree that the judgment entered in favor of Appellee, Wilkes-Barre Hospital Company, LLC, d/b/a Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (“WBGH”) should be affirmed for the reasons set forth in the learned Majority’s Opinion. I write separately, however, as I believe that prior case law addressing the corporate negligence doctrine as it applies to hospitals has created some confusion. Nonetheless, when carefully analyzed, I conclude that prior precedent regarding the corporate negligence doctrine, particularly as it pertains to a hospital’s duty to oversee its medical personnel, reaffirms that the trial court’s decision to enter a nonsuit on Appellant’s corporate negligence claim against WBGH was correct.