Legal case briefs for nurses.
CASE FACTS: Gregory Harry, a quadriplegic, was admitted to South Coast Medical Center (Hospital) on June 18, 2009. His paralysis forces him to use catheters to urinate. Shortly after his admission, a hospital employee, not believed to be a nurse, tripped over the hose of Gregory's catheter. As a result the catheter was pulled out of Gregory's bladder. The sudden pulling of the catheter out of the bladder caused Gregory to pass blood and tissue and feel "great pain and fear." Gregory summoned a nurse, who attempted to insert another catheter, but the attempt caused "great pain." The nurse administered pain medication, waited, and then tried several more times to insert a catheter. At one point, the nurse thought the catheter was fully inserted and inflated it. However, it did not produce urine and after "an hour or more of painful and fearful waiting," the nurse removed the catheter allegedly causing" another eruption of overwhelming pain" and a bloody discharge. Because the nurse was unable to insert a catheter, and she summoned a urologist, who successfully inserted a new catheter. Gregory brought suit against the hospital claiming he suffered excruciating pain and trauma, permanent injury, and loss of functionality as a result of the negligence of the Hospital's employees. He requested general and special damages and other relief. The Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment. Attached to the motion were declarations from Patricia Waldron, a registered nurse with a master's degree in nursing, Dr. David Ginsberg, a board-certified urologist, and Gregory's medical records and deposition. Nurse Waldron, a nurse with over 30 years experience, opined that she had reviewed the pertinent medical records and could find that the care and treatment provided by Hospital employees complied with the applicable standard of care. The trial court granted the Hospital's motion for summary judgment. Gregory appealed.
COURT'S OPINION: The California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, reversed the judgment entered by the trial court, which had granted the Hospital's motion for summary judgment. The court held, inter alia, that the Hospital failed to show that one or more elements necessary for summary judgment to be entered was missing, to wit, the fact that to satisfy the burden for entry of summary judgment, a party must prove that a reasonable trier of fact could not find for the plaintiff. Further, the court found that Dr. Ginsberg declaration, while offering his own medical opinion, candidly acknowledged that it was possible that Gregory's incontinence was caused by injury to his bladder sphincter. Having concluded that the Hospital had failed to meet its burden of proof to prevail, the court ruled that summary judgment for the hospital be reversed. Harry v. South Coast Medical Center, G044770 CAAPP4-3 (5/11/2012)-CA
KS: Infiltration of IV Sites: Injuries Resulted: Judgment for hospital Affirmed on Appeal
CASE FACTS: On November 4, 2006, Linda Denning was admitted to Lifepoint's Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City, Kansas, for diagnosis and treatment regarding nausea and pain. Linda had been treated previously for diabetes. Immediately after her admission, Linda was prescribed medications that were to be administered by IV injection. The registered nurse attending to her was Cameron White, who prepared the infusion site in Linda's right forearm for the purpose of administering the liquids and drugs that had been prescribed by the attending physician. After initiating the administration of the fluids and drug (Phenergan) that was prescribed, the IV fluids infiltrated into the tissue surrounding the infusion site, after escaping from the dedicated vein. The IV infusion site was then moved to Linda's right hand. On November 5, 2006, Linda experienced pain at the new infusion site and the surrounding area. Nurse White was notified of Linda's distress. Ultimately, the 'House Supervisor Nurse' moved the infusion site to Linda's left forearm and was successful in administering the prescribed liquids. Soon after, the infiltration into Linda's right forearm and hand, the attending nurse observed a bruised appearance in the right hand and some swelling from the hand to the mid[*] forearm, and Linda experienced numbness in the fingers of her right hand. Linda continues to suffer from apparent nerve and tissue damage in her right wrist and forearm. Linda brought suit against the hospital alleging that she suffered significant and permanent damage as a result of the negligence of the hospital's employees. Prior to trial, Linda designated Maria Rose, RN, P.L.N.C., as her "expert witness as to the standard of care." However, she did not designate Nurse Rose as an expert witness on the issue of causation. In her expert report, Nurse Rose concluded that had the IV been evaluated appropriately and discontinued in a timely manner, Linda would not have experienced the extensive swelling and subsequent mechanical compression and compartment syndrome, which resulted from a "deviation from the standard of care a registered nurse is responsible to provide her patients." She acknowledged that the diagnosis of a compartment syndrome was a medical--not a nursing--diagnosis. The hospital's motion for summary judgment was granted. Linda appealed.
COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Kansas affirmed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment for the hospital. The court held, inter alia, that since Linda had failed to present any expert medical opinion as to the fact that the hospital's negligence, if any, was the proximate cause of her injury, the trial court had not erred in granting summary judgment for the hospital. Denning v. Life point Hospitals, Inc., 277 P. 3d 1193 (6/8/2012)-KN
Meet the Editor & Publisher: A. David Tammelleo, JD, is a nationally recognized authority on health care law. Practicing law for over 40 years, he concentrates in health care law with the Rhode Island firm of A. David Tammelleo & Associates. He has presented seminars on medical, nursing and hospital law throughout the United States. In addition to his writings as Editor of Medical Law's, Nursing Law's & Hospital Law's Regan Reports, his legal articles have been published in the most prestigious health law journals. A prolific writer, his thousands or articles, as well as his achievements as an attorney and lecturer, have won him recognition in Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Marquis Who's Who in American Law. Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.