Wrongful Death Suit Involves “Consent To Admission” For Sacramento Patient, Part 3 of 9

It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this wrongful death case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Methodist, or Sutter.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury action and its proceedings.)

Stanhope was among the authority relied on by the Fourth Appellate District Court in Mejia at 1448, 1454-1459, wherein the Mejia court noted that this rule applies with greater force in cases where the plaintiff-patient is seen in the emergency room, emphasizing its agreement with “…the Stanhope holding that emergency room patients cannot be expected to inquire as to whether treating physicians are independent contractors.” Mejia involved a plaintiff whose broken neck was allegedly misdiagnosed by ER physicians, resulting in paralysis. Surveying the law of other jurisdictions, the court observed, ” …because it is commonly believed that hospitals are the actual providers of care, ostensible agency can be readily inferred whenever someone seeks treatment at a hospital.” Id at 1456. The Court concluded California law should be interpreted consistently with this majority view.

Alternatively, if Mr. Hall signed the “Consent to Admission” form after receiving a dose of Dilaudid, an opiate-based narcotic, it may be presumed that his judgment was impaired, particularly given the long duration of his severe pain prior to receiving the medication and his declining vital signs. Either way, this dying man could not be held responsible to analyze a legal document he was required to sign in order to receive treatment to ease his misery, as a matter of law. See Mejia, supra, 99 Cal. App. 4th at 1454, 1458-1459.

The application of this general principle-that patients who enter a medical facility under circumstances indicating that they are unable to effectively consider and accept the terms of an agreement they must sign in order to be admitted should not be bound by its terms-has been applied in a broad range of situations. It extends even to patients who are not in pain, medicated, or seeking admission on an emergency basis.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

The key inquiry is whether the patient is given an adequate understanding of the scope of their consent and agreement under the circumstances of their admission. See Quintanilla v. Dinkleman (2005) 133 Cal. App. 4th 95, 116-117 (where the procedures performed went beyond what was discussed with patient, she never met with the surgeon, the consent form was in a language she did not read and was not translated; her signature on the form did not prove informed consent). Notably, even absent an adhesion contract analysis (discussed below), the Quintanilla court held that a patient who is ” … rushed through the admission process without a real opportunity to read the consent form, could not read the language on the form and did not understand what procedures were going to be performed on her could not be presumed to have consented to treatment through execution of the form.” Id at 117. It further stated, “Sound policy reasons support a rule allowing a patient to rebut a signed contract.” Id; see also Mejia, supra, 99 Cal. App. 4th at 1457-1459, and other authority cited therein. (See Part 4 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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