Logourl black
From our private database of 13,800+ case briefs...

Washington v. Washington Hospital Center

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
579 A.2d 177 (1990)


Facts

LaVerne Thompson (plaintiff), 36, underwent an abortion and tubal ligation which required general anesthesia at the Washington Hospital Center (WHC) (defendant). A nurse inserted an endotracheal tube into Thompson’s throat to provide her with oxygen and to remove carbon dioxide from her body while she was under anesthesia. The tube should have been inserted into Thompson’s trachea just above her lungs. Instead, the tube was inserted into Thompson’s esophagus above the stomach. During the operation, the surgeon noticed that Thompson’s blood was unusually dark, indicating a lack of oxygen to her tissues. Thompson’s heart rate dropped and she went into cardiac arrest. She was resuscitated but had suffered significant oxygen deprivation. Consequently, Thompson was in a persistent vegetative state, totally incapacitated. Thompson’s representatives brought a medical malpractice action against the physicians for negligence in inserting the tube and against WHC for its failure to provide the anesthesiologists with a monitor that provided early detection of insufficient oxygen being delivered in time to prevent brain injury. At trial, Thompson’s expert witness, Dr. Steen, testified that the “emerging” national trend was for hospitals to use the monitors and that some facilities already used them. Steen also testified that several medical and scientific journals recommended, but did not mandate, the use of the monitors. WHC’s expert witness was the hospital’s chair of the anesthesiology department, Dr. Murray, who testified that he had requisitioned monitors to be used at WHC. Otherwise, Murray testified, the hospital would “fail to meet the national standard of care.” Murray further testified that at the time of Thompson’s surgery, there was no national standard of care regarding the use of the monitors. The jury found in favor of Thompson and awarded damages. WHC filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) claiming that Steen’s testimony had failed to cite statistics of the specific number of national hospitals using the monitors and failed to provide documentation mandating their use. The trial judge denied WHC’s motion for JNOV and WHC appealed.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question. To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

Holding and Reasoning (Farrell, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • 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.).

To access this section, start your 7-day free trial of Quimbee for Law Students.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.