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Schloendorff v. Society of the New York Hospital

New York Court of Appeals
105 N.E. 92 (1914)


Facts

The Society of the New York Hospital (the hospital) (defendant) was a charitable hospital that served the needy. The hospital did not seek a profit, and the doctors who worked at the hospital did not get paid. Patients could get medical care at the hospital for free if needed. At most, some patients with better resources would pay $7 per week for a hospital bed, but this rate did not even cover the actual cost of the bed. Mary Schloendorff (plaintiff) went to the hospital with stomach issues and paid $7 per week to stay at the hospital. After spending several weeks in the hospital, Schloendorff was told by a doctor that she would need to be given ether, an anesthetic, for a more thorough examination of a lump the doctor had found. According to Schloendorff, she agreed only to an exam and specifically asked that nothing be removed. However, after Schloendorff was given ether, two doctors operated on her and removed tissue without her consent. Further, as a result of the surgery, Schloendorff developed painful gangrene (i.e., a serious infection) in one arm and had several fingers amputated. Schloendorff sued the hospital for the actions of the doctors and nurses involved in the surgery. The trial court dismissed the claim, and Schloendorff appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cardozo, J.)

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