ER Doctor/Hospital Must Stand Trial Even Though Patient Left Hospital Against Medical Advice
On December 23, 2016, an upstate intermediate Appellate Court held that just because a patient leaves the hospital against the advice of the ER physician doesn't mean the hospital is immune from suit. The plaintiff sought compensation for the partial amputation of two frostbitten fingers which happened shortly after he left the hospital. The plaintiff had signed a form releasing the hospital from liability because the patient was leaving the hospital against medical advice. Two hours later the police found the plaintiff outdoors, freezing and disoriented. The Court reasoned that since the claim was that the hospital and ER doctor had allegedly committed malpractice in the assessment of his condition before the plaintiff signed the form and left--a jury should decide this case. Ingutti v Rochester General Hospital (2016)
New York's highest level appellate court, the Court of Appeals has recently held that patient's who come to the hospital voluntarily may not be involuntarily restrained just because they are intoxicated. Nor can a patient be involuntarily "confined simply because he was having suicidal thoughts a month ago." As such when a hospital lacks the statutory authority under Mental Hygiene Law Section 22.09 to involuntarily detain a patient, there can be no such duty or obligation owed by the hospital to the patient. Kowalsi v St. Francis Hosp. (2013)
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