Tort Law Case Study #2
Ms. C, aged 25 years, was a nurse practitioner in the emergency department (ED) of a small medical center that served a busy community. Since she was the new employee on staff, she was first assigned to work on the night shift.
Very early one morning when Ms. C was on duty, she received a page that Police officers and emergency medical personnel came rushing in to the E.R. at approximately 3 a.m. holding a man with a gunshot wound. According to a police statement taken in the triage room, an officer on foot patrol had witnessed the man, Mr. O, driving erratically near a convenience store and had attempted to flag the driver down.
The officer suspected that the driver was under the influence. When the driver, Mr. O was flashed with police lights, instead of pulling over, Mr. O drove directly into the officer. The officer fired his gun at the car, striking Mr. O in the left shoulder. When the car finally came to a stop, two backup officers arrested Mr. O and brought him to the hospital.
In the ED, Mr. O was asked to consent to a blood draw by the police for evidentiary purposes, and he refused the request. The officer told Mr. O that he would get a warrant, but never did so.
Mr. O was rushed off for emergency surgery, and afterward, Ms. C was assigned to care for him in the recovery unit. Pending investigation, Mr. O’s room was guarded by several armed police officers.
When Ms. C left the patient’s room, the officers entered and again tried to get Mr. O to consent to a blood draw. He refused once more. One of the officers pulled Ms. C aside and asked her surreptitiously if she would be willing to obtain a blood sample from the patient for them. Ms. C looked down the hall, but didn’t see her supervisor or an attending physician. After a moment of thought, she decided the request was probably valid and took the empty vial that the officer gave her.
Ms. C quietly entered the room where Mr. O was now resting comfortably. She asked the patient how he was feeling, checked his vital signs, adjusted his IV drip, made a few notes in his chart, and took the blood sample, which she then gave to the police after she left the room.
Mr. O recovered and was transferred to police custody shortly thereafter. Because it was a busy night in the ED, Ms. C quickly moved on to treat her other patients. She never saw Mr. O again and was not aware that he had been brought to the precinct. Several months later, Ms. C was served with papers notifying her that she was being sued by Mr. O.
1. What is an intentional tort? What is an unintentional tort?
Does your assigned case involve an intentional tort an unintentional tort, both or neither? What specific kind of tort is involved? (negligence, direct cause, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, etc. see pages 145-146 in Yoost & Crawford.)
2. Were there tasks that the nurse did not perform that had bearing on the case?
A. Were there documentation issues that were significant in the case? If so, what were they?
B. Were there issues involving lack of patient care/assessment or monitoring that were significant in the case? If so, what are they?
C. Were there issues involving lack of communication or improper communication that were significant in the case? If so, what are they?
3. Are there any risks of harm to the patient indicated in the case? If so, what are they? Are there risks of harm to the nurse or doctor?
4. Do you think you need additional information to reach a resolution for this case? If so, what additional information is needed?
5. Overall, what do you think is a fair resolution to the case?
Grading Rubric : 5 points maximum. You are doing two case studies, each case study is worth 2.5 points
Question 1- ½ pt per case/1 point total. These questions require a correct short answer, maximum one paragraph per question.
Question 2 – 1 point per case/2 points total. These questions require a description of your ideas/answers pertaining to the question. If your answer requires a yes/no, and your answer is yes, provide a concise answer, maximum 2 paragraphs per question, or a list of answers.
Question 3 is worth ½ point per case/1 point total. 2 paragraphs maximum per question
Questions 4 & 5 are worth ¼ point per case/½ point each (x2 questions), 1 paragraph maximum per question.
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