Question of Fact Whether Hospital Had a Duty to Safeguard Plaintiff from Actions by Third Parties
The Second Department determined there was a question of fact about whether defendant hospital (“Winthrop defendants”) had a duty to safeguard plaintiff-patient from harm caused by the emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) who transported plaintiff to the hospital. Plaintiff was brought to the hospital by ambulance for dialysis. The EMT’s placed plaintiff on a scale and left. Plaintiff fell when he was on the scale:
A hospital has a duty to safeguard the welfare of its patients, even from harm inflicted by third persons, measured by the capacity of the patient to provide for his or her own safety” … . “This sliding scale of duty is limited, however; it does not render a hospital an insurer of patient safety or require it to keep each patient under constant surveillance. As with any liability in tort, the scope of a hospital’s duty is circumscribed by those risks which are reasonably foreseeable” … .
Here, the Winthrop defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that they did not breach a duty owed to the decedent. The decedent was transported to the Winthrop defendants’ facility for dialysis treatment, and a witness for the Winthrop defendants testified at his deposition that the weighing of the decedent, on the Winthrop defendants’ premises, was a critical component of that treatment. It was reasonably foreseeable that a patient suffering from end-stage renal disease, who was transported to the Winthrop defendants’ facility by ambulance and in a stretcher, could fall while being weighed-in at the dialysis unit, if not properly supervised. Thus, the decedent’s injury was reasonably foreseeable to the Winthrop defendants.
In support of their motion, the Winthrop defendants submitted deposition testimony indicating that it was customary practice for EMTs of transportation companies to be responsible for weighing patients brought to the dialysis unit on a stretcher prior to transferring care of the patient to the Winthrop defendants’ dialysis nurses. However, they did not present any evidence that there was any written policy or agreement to that effect. Under these circumstances, the deposition testimony submitted by the Winthrop defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that they did not owe a duty to the decedent. Patel v American Med. Response, Inc., 2015 NY Slip Op 08395, 2nd Dept 11-18-15