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National Health Laboratories, Inc. v. Ahmadi

596 A.2d 555 (1991)

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National Health Laboratories, Inc. v. Ahmadi

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

596 A.2d 555 (1991)

Facts

Pari Ahmadi (plaintiff) was paralyzed because of a misdiagnosis. Ahmadi went to Dr. Elliott Wilner at the Neurology Center (NC) (defendant) due to numbness and other symptoms. Dr. Wilner thought Ahmadi had either multiple sclerosis, a mass lesion, or a vitamin B12 deficiency. Dr. Wilner ordered a blood test for vitamin B12 levels, and Ahmadi’s blood was sent to the National Health Laboratories (NHL) (defendant) for analysis. NHL erroneously reported that Ahmadi’s vitamin B12 levels were in the normal range. Ahmadi’s condition worsened, and she was hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital (GW) (defendant). There, Dr. Phillip Pulaski relied on the NHL lab results to rule out vitamin B12 deficiency and diagnosed Ahmadi with multiple sclerosis. After discharge, Ahmadi improved and then worsened, and she went to see Dr. Wilner at NC several months after her first visit. Dr. Wilner again ruled out vitamin B12 deficiency based on the NHL lab results and suggested treatment for multiple sclerosis. While out of state, Ahmadi was hospitalized at Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Bruce Spertell at Stanford diagnosed Ahmadi with vitamin B12 deficiency based on her symptoms alone, but it was too late, and Ahmadi became paralyzed. Ahmadi sued NC, GW, and NHL for negligence and medical malpractice. The jury found GW not liable and awarded Ahmadi a $10 million verdict against NC and NHL. NC and NHL filed claims for indemnity and contribution against each other, and the court held that NC and NHL were each entitled to 50 percent contribution from the other. NC and NHL appealed, arguing that each was entitled to indemnification from the other.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Steadman, J.)

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