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Darling v. Charleston Community Memorial Hosp.

Supreme Court of Illinois
211 N.E.2d 253 (1965)


Facts

Dorrence Darling II (plaintiff) broke his right leg while playing in a college football game when he was 18-years-old. In the emergency room of Charleston Community Memorial Hospital (defendant), Dr. John R. Alexander (defendant) treated Dorrence by applying traction and placing the leg in a plaster cast. Soon after the cast dried, Dorrence began experiencing pain in his toes, which became swollen and discolored and later cold and insensitive. On several occasions thereafter, Alexander made slight modifications to the cast including notching it around Dorrence’s toes and then splitting the sides with a saw, cutting his leg in the process. The nurses failed to follow hospital procedures to monitor his toes for changes in color, temperature, and movement, to check circulation every 10 to 20 minutes, and to report any changes to medical staff. Dorrence was transferred to another hospital where he was treated by a physician who found that his leg contained dead tissue likely resulting from an overly tight-fitting cast which interfered with blood circulation in the leg. After several unsuccessful operations to the leg, it had to be amputated just below the knee. Dorrence, joined by his father, filed an action against Alexander and Community Memorial to recover damages for negligent medical and hospital treatment. Prior to trial, the parties dismissed the action against Alexander pursuant to a $40,000 settlement. At trial, the Darlings argued that it was the duty of the hospital staff to ensure that all policies and procedures were followed. Since the hospital was licensed and accredited, the licensing regulations, accreditation standards, and its own policies and bylaws defined the facility’s duty to a patient. Any infraction thereof imposes liability. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the Darlings in the amount of $150,000 which was reduced by Alexander’s settlement for a sum of $110,000. The judgment was affirmed by the appellate court.

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Holding and Reasoning (Schaefer, J.)

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