example, in Bienz v. Central Suffolk Hospital, an individual who called the physician’s office “for the purpose of initiating treatment” sued the physician for malpractice. 73 The physician moved for summary judgment, arguing that a telephone call to initiate treatment does not form a physician-patient relationship. 74 The court affirmed the denial of summary judgment, finding that a relationship may have formed and that more fact-finding was necessary to determine whether any medical advice had been given during the call. 75 Similarly, in Adams v. Via Christi Regional Medical Center, a malpractice claim was filed against an obstetrician following the death of a woman due to an undetected ectopic pregnancy. 76 Although the defendant physician had treated the woman previously, he had not seen her as a patient for several years. 77 On the evening she died, her mother called the physician and asked questions about her daughter’s abdominal pain. 78 The physician explained to the patient’s mother that such pain is typical during pregnancy, recommended she go to the emergency room if her condition worsened, and to go see physician in the morning. 79 Later that evening, she was taken to the hospital and died. 80 The physician moved for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that he had not re-formed a physician-patient relationship based on the conversation with the girl’s mother over the phone. 81 The court affirmed the judgment against the physician, finding that, because he did not decline to provide his medical opinion on her case, he cannot say that he declined to form a physician-patient relationship. 82 Where physicians have provided telemedicine consults, courts have sometimes allowed the jury to determine, based on the specific facts of the case, that a physician-patient relationship was formed. 83 In White v. Harris, for example, the parents of a psychiatric patient who committed suicide sued a psychiatrist who had one online video consultation with the girl as part of a research study on telemedicine. 84 The court reversed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment, finding that the one-time consultation was sufficient
73. See id. 74. Id. 75. Id. at 139-40. 76. Adams, 19 P.3d at 132. 77. Id. at 134. 78. Id. 79. Id. 80. Id. at 134-35. 81. Id. at 139-40. 82. Id. at 141-42. 83. See, e.g., Bovara v. St. Francis Hosp., 700 N.E.2d 143, 144 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998); see also, White v. Harris, 2011 VT 115, ¶ 1, 36 A.3d 203, 204 (Vt. 2011). 84. White, VT 115, at ¶ 1-2, 36 A.3d at 203.