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Scott v. SSM Healthcare St. Louis

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District
70 S.W.3d 560 (2002)


Facts

At the age of 17, Matthew Scott sustained minor injuries after being involved in a car accident in 1994. He was taken to the Hospital (SSM Healthcare St. Louis is the parent entity) where he was treated and released to his father. Two days later, Matthew returned to the emergency room complaining of a severe headache. A physician examined Matthew and ordered that a CT scan of his head be performed. Dr. Richard Koch, who was employed by Radiologic Imaging Consultants (RIC) and contracted to provide services to the hospital, read the CT film and concluded that it was normal. Matthew was diagnosed as having a mild concussion from the car accident, was given medication and sent home. Matthew’s headache persisted and shortly thereafter he collapsed, experiencing paralysis on his right side. He was taken to Barnes Hospital where a spinal tap and CT scan revealed an infection on the top of his brain resulting in swelling inside his skull. Although he had several surgeries to correct the condition and his health improved to a degree, Matthew sustained permanent injuries including significant paralysis on the right side of his body that ultimately required a permanent ventricular drainage tube inserted into his brain. Matthew and his mother (plaintiffs) filed a medical malpractice action against the Hospital and others (defendants). They claimed that Koch had acted below the accepted standard of care in misreading the initial CT scan and although he was formally employed at RIC, he had served as an agent of the Hospital at all times during Matthew’s treatment. Prior to trial, plaintiffs settled with Koch and RIC for $624,000. The action against the Hospital proceeded to trial by jury, which concluded that Koch was the Hospital’s agent and found for the Scotts. The Hospital appealed claiming a lack of agency with Koch.

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Holding and Reasoning (Teitelman, J.)

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