Answer the specific questions asked at the end of the following essay based on the fact situation provided. Your answer should be completed in essay form. Explain the legal basis behind your answer and present both sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion.
Acme Regional Hospital is a private rural hospital with a full service emergency room that handles most emergencies. It is, in fact the only emergency room in a 25 mile radius. The hospital does not employ the physicians directly, but contracts with Docs-R-Us Inc., a national medical staffing agency. Although Docs-R-Us provides the physician, the hospital does not allow any physician to practice in the emergency room or anywhere else in the hospital without applying and being granted staff privileges.
As part of the staff privilege process, each doctor applying to ACME Regional Hospital is subjected to a rigorous application and credentialing process.
Dr. Sturgeon is a board certified emergency room physician, employed by Docs-R-Us, Inc. who was placed at, and given staff privileges for Acme’s Emergency Room. His contract with Docs-R-Us designate Dr. Sturgeon as an employee of Docs-R-Us and he is paid a salary, after taxes are withheld. In the application process, he affirmatively indicted that six years prior he had been treated for alcohol addiction. In investigating this matter, the hospital found that Dr. Sturgeon had numerous malpractice cases and had been suspended by the State licensing Board in connection with two of those cases. Because his license was restored and unencumbered at the time he applied, and Docs-R-Us indicated he was the only E.R. doc available, the hospital granted him privileges.
The Emergency Room for Acme Regional has a clearly posted sign which reads:
THE PHYSICIANS PRACTICING IN THIS EMERGENCY ROOM ARE NOT EMPLOYEES OF ACME REGIONAL HOSPITAL. THEY ARE INDEPENDENT PHYSICIANS, AS ARE ALL PHYSICIANS PRACTICING IN THIS HOSPITAL.
One night, Joe Prep, a local college student was brought to the hospital emergency room where he was immediately seen by Dr. Sturgeon. Joe was brought in by his fraternity brothers who reported that he had been drinking and was standing on a table at the fraternity house singing the school fight song and fell, onto the floor striking his head. Joe was lethargic and incoherent when he entered the hospital and did not become more lucid before the doctor examined him. Based upon the facts surrounding the injury, as well as his blood alcohol level, Dr. Sturgeon decided that Joe had merely suffered a superficial contusion (bruise) to his head and was otherwise just very drunk. He then sent Joe home with his fraternity brothers and Joe expired during the night due to an undiagnosed severe subdural hematoma (bleeding in the brain).
Joe’s family has filed suit and has an expert physician who will testify that Dr. Sturgeon fell below the standard of care by not further working up the head injury and that a proper diagnosis might have saved Joe’s life. Dr. Sturgeon’s attorney retained an expert who will testify that even had the hematoma been recognized, Joe would have expired from this massive bleed no matter what treatment was attempted.
Answer each of the following questions being careful to specify the legal doctrine(s) you are applying and the pros and cons of each argument:
What are the potential liabilities of Dr. Sturgeon in this case?
Assuming for this subpart only that Dr. Sturgeon’s negligence was the legal cause of Joe’s death, what are the potential liabilities of Docs-R-US, Inc. in this case
Assuming for this subpart only that Dr. Sturgeon’s negligence was the legal cause of Joe’s death, what are the potential liabilities of Acme Regional Hospital in this case?
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