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Baptist Memorial Hospital System v. Sampson

969 S.W.2d 945 (Tex. 1998)

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Baptist Memorial Hospital System v. Sampson

Supreme Court of Texas

969 S.W.2d 945 (Tex. 1998)

Facts

Rhea Brown (plaintiff) went to the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital System (defendant) with a brown-recluse spider bite. A doctor diagnosed an allergic reaction, prescribed Benadryl and pain medication, and sent her home. Brown returned a day later, her condition worsening, but a second doctor simply prescribed more pain medication and again sent her home. Fourteen hours later, when Brown went to another hospital in septic shock, doctors correctly identified the bite and administered the proper life-saving treatment. Brown allegedly had continuing pain, sensitivity, breathing difficulties, and scarring from the bite. She sued the two doctors who misdiagnosed her and claimed the hospital held vicarious liability as their employer. The hospital moved for summary judgment based on evidence that the doctors were independent contractors, not its employees. Brown had signed consent forms advising her of that fact, and signs were posted in the emergency room. Brown claimed she never read the forms or saw the signs, did not choose which doctors treated her, and believed they were hospital employees. The trial court granted summary judgment for the hospital and Brown appealed. The appellate court reversed, reasoning that hospitals have a nondelegable duty for malpractice of emergency-room doctors, prompting a further appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Phillips, C.J.)

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