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Sermchief v. Gonzales

Supreme Court of Missouri
660 S.W.2d 683 (1983)


Facts

The non-profit corporation East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA) provided medical services including family planning, obstetrics, and gynecology, to low-income individuals at several locations throughout Missouri. Nurses provided a variety of services including the taking of patient histories, breast and pelvic examinations, laboratory tests, blood serology, and providing of and giving information about oral contraceptives, condoms, and other family planning and counseling services. Gonzales and other officials with the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts (defendants) ordered the nurses and physicians, including Sermchief (plaintiff), to show cause why the nurses were not guilty of the unauthorized practice of medicine in violation of state law and the physicians guilty of aiding and abetting the nurses’ unauthorized practice of medicine activities. Gonzales did not question the skills or competence of the nurses or physicians and none of the nurses’ actions caused any patient harm or injury. All acts by nurses were performed according to written standing orders and protocols prepared and signed by physicians with the EMAA. The nurses and physicians sought a declaratory judgment and injunction asking the court to declare that the nurses’ practices were not the unauthorized practice of medicine. The trial court denied the injunction.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Welliver, 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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