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TN: aged Alzheimer's patient fails & injures hip: failure to prove any liability for patient's injuries.

CASE FACTS: Evelyn Tate was an eighty-five-year-old resident of Bordeaux Long Term Care Facility, a nursing home operated by the Metropolitan Hospital Authority. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, dementia, psychosis, delusions, and a variety of physical ailments. She fell at the doorway of her room on January 23, 2004, and broke her hip. A nurse in the hallway heard the patient raise her voice shortly before the accident but was unable to reach the patient quickly enough to stop her from falling. Upon arriving at the patient's room, the nurse observed another Alzheimer's patient standing in the room approximately fifteen feet away from the patient. The patient claimed that the other patient had pushed her, causing her to fall. However, the other patient had no history of aggressive behavior toward other patients, and it was not unusual for patients to be in one another's rooms, since it was considered that "wandering is an important and encouraged part of the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's disease." On February 10, 2004, Ms. Tate filed suit against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Her suit was amended to several times to name the Metropolitan Hospital Authority as the proper defendant and, inter alia, to substitute Ms. Tate's daughter as the plaintiff on behalf of her mother after it was determined that Ms. Tare was not mentally competent to proceed with the case. Alter a one day bench trial, the trial judge, alter finding that the plaintiff failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Authority's actions were a proximate cause of Ms. Tate's injuries and that the risk of harm to Ms. Tate was reasonably foreseeable, entered judgment for the Authority. The plaintiff appealed.

COURT'S OPINION: The Court of Appeals of Tennessee affirmed the judgment for the Authority, which was entered by the trial judge. The court held, inter alia, that the court was required to review the record de nova and presume that the findings of fact by the trial judge were correct "unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise." Further, the court made it clear that it would give great weight to the trial judge's factual findings that rested on determinations made after the trial judge had the opportunity to observe and listen to the testimony of witnesses for both sides in the case. The court concluded that after carefully reviewing the record on appeal, Ms. Tate was either pushed by the other patient who was found in her room, which the court noted seemed doubtful, or Ms. Tare fell on her own while in one of her frequent agitated states of mind. Further, the fact that the other patient had no history of aggressive behavior, lent credence to the latter view. Hamilton ex rel. Tate v. Metropolitan Hospital, S.W.3d--TN

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 of 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.
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Title Annotation:Legal Case Briefs for Nurses
Author:Tammelleo, A. David
Publication:Nursing Law's Regan Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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