Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Miller v. HCA, Inc. case brief

Miller v. HCA, Inc. case brief summary
118 S.W.3d 758 (2003)

Plaintiffs parents filed suit against defendants, a hospital and the hospital's corporate entity, alleging battery and negligence claims for the resuscitation and treatment of their very prematurely born infant. The jury found for the parents. The Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District reversed. The parents appealed.

The parents argued that the court of appeals erred because they did not consent to treatment of the infant.

  • The supreme court disagreed. 
  • The time for evaluating the infant was when she was born and the infant was born alive but in distress. 
  • At that time, the doctor had to make a spilt-second decision on whether to provide life-sustaining treatment. 
  • While the parents were both present in the delivery room, there was simply no time to obtain their consent to treatment or to institute legal proceedings to challenge their withholding of consent. 
  • Thus, the doctor was faced with emergent circumstances when he treated the infant. 
  • Those circumstances resulted from not being able to evaluate the infant until she was born, not because of any delay or inaction by the hospital. 
  • Providing treatment to the infant under emergent circumstances did not imply consent to treatment despite actual notice of refusal to consent. 
  • Therefore, the hospital was not liable under a battery or negligence theory solely for proceeding with the treatment absent consent.


The judgment was affirmed.

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