This assignment gives you an opportunity to consider the facts of a case potentially involving claims of negligence. You will have the opportunity to analyze the possible claims, as well as the potential defenses to any claim presented by the plaintiff. The facts of the case are described below.
Following an automobile accident, a 46-year-old man was brought to the hospital emergency department by an ambulance. The patient seemed to be alert, was able to answer questions, and claimed to be suffering from a great deal of pain. The physician administered 15 milligrams of morphine intravenously. The patient needed blood but refused a transfusion. After being observed in the emergency department for several hours, the patient was placed on a medical-surgical unit for observation. The following morning, he was unresponsive, and he was eventually pronounced dead. It was later discovered that he had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. The night of the accident, he had injected heroin and drank several shots of tequila and multiple cans of beer. He had not disclosed any of this to the doctors or nurses treating him. Several years later, his estate sued the physician, claiming medical malpractice.
Analyze the possible outcomes of the lawsuit under one of the following scenarios:
If death was the result of overdose
If death was the result of failure to administer blood
If death was the result of subdural hematoma
- In your short paper, analyze the potential success of a claim for negligence under one of the three possible scenarios. Include a detailed discussion of each element of the negligence claim and why that element is met or not met. Discuss the possible defenses that could be reasonably asserted by the doctor to each claim, and why that defense might apply. Lastly, include a paragraph describing which, if any, claim you believe might be the most successful against the doctor and why.
Expert Solution Preview
In analyzing the possible outcomes of the lawsuit, it is important to evaluate the potential success of a claim for negligence under one of three possible scenarios: death resulting from overdose, death resulting from failure to administer blood, or death resulting from a subdural hematoma. This assignment will discuss each element of the negligence claim and assess whether it is met or not met in each scenario. Additionally, potential defenses that could be reasonably asserted by the doctor to each claim will be explored, along with an assessment of their applicability. Finally, a determination will be made regarding the most successful claim against the doctor.
1. Death Resulting from Overdose:
In this scenario, the patient’s death is attributed to an overdose caused by the administration of 15 milligrams of morphine intravenously. To establish a claim for negligence, the following elements must be met:
a) Duty of Care: The physician owed a duty of care to the patient when administering medication.
b) Breach of Duty: It must be assessed whether the physician breached the standard of care by administering an excessive dosage of morphine.
c) Causation: It must be proven that the overdose of morphine directly caused or significantly contributed to the patient’s death.
d) Damages: The patient’s death would be the significant damage incurred in this case.
Possible defense: The doctor could argue that the dosage of morphine administered was within the acceptable range based on the patient’s reported pain level and medical history. The doctor may also present evidence indicating that the patient’s drug and alcohol abuse could have contributed to the overdose.
2. Death Resulting from Failure to Administer Blood:
In this scenario, the patient’s death is attributed to the refusal of a blood transfusion despite the need for it. The elements of the negligence claim are as follows:
a) Duty of Care: The physician had a duty to provide proper medical treatment, including the administration of a blood transfusion if necessary.
b) Breach of Duty: It must be determined whether the physician breached the standard of care by failing to convince the patient to accept the blood transfusion.
c) Causation: It needs to be established that the patient’s refusal of the blood transfusion directly led to his death.
d) Damages: The patient’s death is considered the primary damage.
Possible defense: The doctor could argue that they made reasonable efforts to persuade the patient to accept the blood transfusion but ultimately respected the patient’s autonomous decision-making. The doctor may also highlight the patient’s history of drug and alcohol abuse, which might have influenced the decision to refuse the transfusion.
3. Death Resulting from Subdural Hematoma:
In this scenario, the patient’s death is attributed to a subdural hematoma resulting from the automobile accident. The elements of the negligence claim are as follows:
a) Duty of Care: The physician owed a duty to provide appropriate medical care for the injuries sustained in the accident.
b) Breach of Duty: It should be assessed whether the physician failed to recognize or properly treat the subdural hematoma, thus breaching the standard of care.
c) Causation: It must be established that the physician’s failure to address the subdural hematoma directly caused or significantly contributed to the patient’s death.
d) Damages: The patient’s death constitutes the primary damage.
Possible defense: The doctor could argue that they provided appropriate medical care and did not breach the standard of care. They may present evidence indicating that the subdural hematoma was promptly evaluated and treated in accordance with established protocols.
Most Successful Claim:
Of the three potential claims, the claim with the highest likelihood of success against the doctor appears to be death resulting from subdural hematoma. This is because the duty of care element is more clearly established in this scenario, given the physician’s obligation to provide appropriate medical care for the injuries sustained in the accident. Additionally, it could be argued that the breach of duty element has a higher probability of being met if there is evidence suggesting a failure to recognize or properly treat the subdural hematoma. As for the other two scenarios, the presence of the patient’s undisclosed history of drug and alcohol abuse may complicate the establishment of causation and breach of duty, potentially affecting the success of the claims.