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Thompson v. Nason Hospital

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
591 A.2d 703 (1991)


Facts

In 1978, Linda Thompson (plaintiff) was injured in an accident when her car collided with a school bus. She was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Nason Hospital (defendant) in critical condition. Thompson’s husband, Donald, advised hospital personnel that Linda was taking the blood-thinning drug, Coumadin, had a permanent pacemaker, and was taking other heart medications. Dr. Edward Schultz, a general practitioner, was asked by a hospital nurse to examine Thompson. X-rays revealed that she suffered leg and foot fractures as well as extensive lacerations over her left eye and the back of her head, constricted pupils, a brain concussion, an enlarged heart with a murmur, and amnesia. Ophthalmologist Dr. Larry Jones sutured Thompson’s eye lacerations while another orthopedic physician advised against other aggressive treatment until her critical medical condition improved, which it did not. Due to her multiple injuries sustained in the car accident and her heart condition, Thompson was admitted by Schultz to Nason’s intensive care unit. The following morning, Dr. Mark Paris, a general surgeon on Nason’s staff, examined Thompson and found her unable to move her left foot and toes. Also, a Babinski test indicated a neurological, intracerebral problem. Later, Thompson had complete paralysis on her left side and was transferred to Hershey Medical Center because of her progressive neurological problem. There, she underwent tests that revealed the presence of a large intracerebral hematoma in her brain. She was discharged with the paralysis to her left side. Thompson filed suit against Nason Hospital alleging that her injuries were the direct and proximate result of the negligence of Nason acting through its agents, servants, and employees in failing to appropriately examine and treat her. After the trial court (Superior Court) adopted a theory of corporate negligence applicable to Nason Hospital, the hospital requested permission for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the appropriateness of the theory.

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Holding and Reasoning (Zappala, 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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