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Diggs v. Novant Health, Inc.

North Carolina Court of Appeals
628 S.E.2d 851 (2006)


Facts

Mary Louise Diggs (plaintiff) needed gall bladder surgery and chose a surgeon. This surgeon had hospital privileges at Forsyth Medical Center (Forsyth) (defendant), which was owned by Novant Health, Inc. (Novant) (defendant). Forsyth had a department of anesthesiology, but none of the department’s anesthesiologists were actually employed by Forsyth. Rather, the anesthesia department was staffed entirely by an independent group, Piedmont Anesthesia & Pain Consultants, P.A. (Piedmont) (defendant), that had an exclusive contract to provide all anesthesia services at Forsyth. When Diggs was admitted, she signed a form consenting to the services of “my physician” and the services of “the anesthetist/anesthesiologist responsible for this service.” Dr. Joseph McConville and nurse Sheila Crumb were the Piedmont employees who provided anesthesia care to Diggs for her surgery at Forsyth. However, Crumb had difficulty inserting a tube and punctured Diggs’s esophagus, severely and permanently injuring her. Diggs sued Piedmont, McConville, and Crumb for medical malpractice. Diggs also sued Forsyth and Novant, claiming they were vicariously liable for the anesthesia personnel’s negligence. The trial court dismissed the vicarious-liability claim against Forsyth and Novant, and Diggs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Geer, J.)

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