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Brook v. St. John’s Hickey Memorial Hospital

Supreme Court of Indiana
380 N.E.2d 72 (1978)


Facts

At approximately two years of age, Terry Lynn Brook (plaintiff) was diagnosed as having a possible urological disorder that would need to be confirmed by injecting her with a contrast medium and then taking x-rays. Dr. Fischer (defendant), a radiologist, injected the contrast medium into the calves of Terry’s legs despite the instruction on the package label that it should be injected into the buttocks. About four months later, Terry’s right leg became stiff and her heel began to lift off of the ground. It was later determined that a shortening of her Achilles tendon was the cause of her leg problem which was subsequently corrected via two surgical operations. Tracy’s father, Arthur, brought suit against Fischer, St. John’s Hickey Memorial Hospital, and two other physicians, alleging that Fischer went beyond common medical practice by negligently choosing an improper site on Terry’s body to inject the contrast medium and that his decision amounted to a medical experiment. At trial, the court refused to give the Brooks’ jury “instruction number 4” which stated that any new medical procedure should pass through an experimental stage and that “a radiologist is not authorized in trying untested experiments on patients”. Brook appealed. The court of appeals found that Fischer’s choice of injection site may have been a medical experiment since other physicians did not use the calf muscles as injection sites for the contrast medium.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hunter, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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