MAXAMOR WENTZEL, A MINOR, BY HIS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN CHARISMA WENTZEL, AND CHARISMA WENTZEL, IN HER OWN RIGHT
DOMINIC CAMMARANO, III, D.O.; READING HEALTH PHYSICIAN NETWORK; READING OB/GYN, P.C., READING OB/GYN & WOMEN'S BIRTH CENTER, LLC; READING HOSPITAL; READING HEALTH SYSTEM; ALL ABOUT CHILDREN PEDIATRIC PARTNERS, P.C.; TENET HEALTH SYSTEM; ST.CHRISTOPHER'S HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN, LLC; ST. CHRISTOPHER'S HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN; HEART CENTER FOR CHILDREN AND ALLEGHENY INTEGRATED HEALTH GROUP APPEAL OF: CHARISMA WENTZEL, INDIVIDUALLY IN HER OWN RIGHT, AND AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF MAXAMOR WENTZEL
from the Order Entered March 24, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No(s): No.
4185 August Term, 2015
BEFORE: PANELLA, LAZARUS, JJ., and STEVENS, P.J.E.
Wentzel ("Maximor"), a minor, by his parent and
natural guardian, Charisma Wentzel, and Charisma Wentzel in
her own right ("Appellants"), appeal from the order
entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County
sustaining preliminary objections to venue and transferring
the action to Berks County. We vacate the order and remand
for proceedings consistent with this decision.
medical malpractice action arises from, inter alia,
the allegedly negligent failure of Philadelphia's St.
Christopher's Hospital ("SCHC") and its
resident cardiologist Dr. Lindsay Rogers to timely transmit
her diagnosis and treatment plan for Maximor based on her
reading of an emergency transthoracic echocardiogram
performed on the premature newborn, who was receiving
neonatal intensive care at Reading Hospital, Berks County.
Dr. Rogers' diagnosis was pulmonary hypertension
requiring immediate treatment or intervention, which she
recommended SCHC should provide.
alleged in their complaint that the resultant one-day delay
in putting Dr. Rogers' treatment plan into effect
amounted to the negligent provision of health care services
causing harm to Maximor. The trial court, however, sustained
Appellees' preliminary objections to venue in
Philadelphia County and transferred the matter to Berks
County, as it rejected Appellants' argument that
transmission of Dr. Rogers' impressions, diagnoses, and
treatment plan for immediate transfer to SCHC constituted the
furnishing of "health care services" as defined
under both the MCARE Act and Pennsylvania Rules of Civil
Procedure implementing such legislation. Instead, the court
agreed with Appellees' position that Appellants'
complaint was predicated on an allegation of mere clerical
error falling outside the ambit of such controlling
trial court aptly provides a more detailed account of the
case history pertinent to the issue before us:
This matter was instituted by Complaint on September 1, 2015.
[Appellants] brought this medical professional liability
action against [Appellees], alleging professional liability
claims against all Appellees, as well as direct corporate
negligence claims as to the Reading facilities and St.
Appellant, Christina Wentzel, underwent prenatal care with
Dr. Cammarano and the Reading Appellees. See, Complaint at
¶ 28. Appellant's obstetrical history of having a
prior child with Intrauterine Growth [Restriction]
("IUGR") and prior pre-term delivery at 32 weeks
with low amniotic fluid was disclosed at the start of
Appellant's treatment. ¶ 29. Appellant's initial
prenatal appointment of May 9, 2013, noted Ms. Wentzel to be
17 5/7 weeks gestation per her last menstrual cycle.
Appellant was given an estimated due date of October 12,
2013. ¶ 31.
Appellee, Cammarano, performed a prenatal ultrasound at 20
6/7 weeks gestation (based upon Appellant's last
menstrual period) which noted normal amniotic fluid and a
calculated gestational age of 18 5/7 weeks. ¶ 33. No
change was made to note the difference in Appellant's
gestational age. ¶ 35. Dr. Cammarano performed prenatal
ultrasounds again in July, 2013 and August, 2013. Each visit
indicated a difference in her gestational age. ¶ 36-37.
Appellant's next prenatal ultrasound on September 10,
2013, indicated a decreased amniotic fluid level, the fetus
was in the breech position, and oligohydramnios was
diagnosed. ¶ 40. Appellant was admitted to Reading
Hospital for an emergency caesarean section delivery. ¶
Shortly after birth on September 10, 2013, the child was
transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
("NICU"). ¶ 48. The child continued to suffer
from serious respiratory distress requiring intubation and
ventilation treatment. ¶ 49-54.
On September 12, 2013, a transthoracic echocardiogram was
performed at Reading Hospital at approximately 12:41 p.m.
¶ 56. The echocardiogram report was sent to Appellee,
St. Christopher's for interpretation. ¶ 57. The
report was interpreted and signed by Dr. Lindsay Rogers at
St. Christopher's. The report was signed at 5:39 p.m. On
September 12, 2013. ¶ 59. The report indicated pulmonary
hypertension and tricuspid valve insufficiency requiring
immediate treatment. ¶ 60.
The report was transmitted back to Reading Hospital from St.
Christopher's on September 13, 2013, at 8:40 p.m. ¶
62. At this point, the child had persistent pulmonary
hypertension, and began receiving advanced respiratory
On September 14, 2013, the child was transported from Reading
Hospital to St. Christopher's with [ ] final diagno[ses]
of persistent pulmonary hypertension of newborn, respiratory
distress [syndrome] and preterm infant. St. Christopher's
noted the child to be symmetrically small for gestational age
with feeding difficulties. ¶¶ 71, 73.
The child was transferred from St. Christopher's back to
Reading Hospital on October 7, 2013, where he remained until
November 18, 2013. ¶76. During this time, the child was
noted to have serious respiratory issues, feeding
difficulties, gastroesophageal reflux and failure to thrive.
The child was again transferred from Reading Hospital to St.
Christopher's on November 18, 2013. ¶¶ 77-78.
During the child's second admission to St.
Christopher's, a CT scan revealed an old, healing rib
fracture first seen on November 15, 2013, while the child was
a patient at Reading Hospital. ¶ 80. Appellants allege
the fracture could have occurred at Reading Hospital during
the September 10 - September 14, 2013, stay; St.
Christopher's during the September 14 - October 7, 2013,
stay; or at Reading Hospital during the October 7 - November
18, 2013, stay. ¶ 81. The child was then transferred to
Hershey Medical Center (not a party to this action) where he
remained until May 13, 2014. ¶82.
The Reading Appellees filed Preliminary Objections to
Appellants' Complaint raising, inter alia,
improper venue pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 1006(a.1).
Specifically, Appellees argued the Appellants failed to raise
any allegations of professional negligence stemming from
medical care furnished to the child in Philadelphia County
while at St. Christopher's. [The trial court] scheduled
an argument and evidentiary hearing regarding the objection
to venue, after which the Preliminary Objections were
sustained, and this matter was transferred to Berks County.
This appeal followed.
Trial Court Opinion, filed 8/18/16, at 1-4.
appealed and presents the following ...