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ROCKWELL v. STONE (07/18/61)

July 18, 1961

ROCKWELL
v.
STONE, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 271, Jan. T., 1961, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, March T., 1957, No. 2040, in case of E. Benjamin Rockwell et ux. v. Hrant H. Stone et al. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

John J. McDevitt, 3rd, for Stone, appellant.

Wilfred R. Lorry, with him Abraham E. Freedman, Charles Sovel, and Freedman, Landy & Lorry, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Jones, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 404 Pa. Page 563]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES.

This is an action in trespass for malpractice instituted by E. Benjamin Rockwell in Court of Common Pleas No. 6*fn1 of Philadelphia County against Dr. Harant H. Stone and Dr. Richard Kaplan for personal injuries, including the loss by amputation of Rockwell's left arm. The matter was tried before Judge GUERIN; after a three-week trial, the jury returned verdicts against both Dr. Stone and Dr. Kaplan in the amount of $75,000.

Both Drs. Stone and Kaplan filed motions for judgment n.o.v. and for new trials. Later, Dr. Stone withdrew his motion for judgment n.o.v. All motions having been refused by the court below, these two appeals

[ 404 Pa. Page 564]

    were taken. This opinion will deal with the appeal of Dr. Stone who seeks a new trial alleging that the verdict was against the evidence and that the trial court erred both in its instructions to the jury and the admission in evidence of certain hospital records.

E. Benjamin Rockwell (Rockwell) on November 2, 1955, consulted Dr. Kaplan, an orthopedic surgeon on the staff of the Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia. After an examination, Dr. Kaplan concluded that Rockwell had a bursa condition in his right elbow and recommended surgery for removal of the bursa. Rockwell either suggested or requested that the surgery be performed with a local anesthesia, but, due to the nature of the surgery, Dr. Kaplan advised a general anesthesia.

The operation was scheduled to take place on November 11, 1955, at the Graduate Hospital and Rockwell was admitted to that hospital on November 10, 1955. At approximately 8:00 a.m. the next morning, in accordance with Dr. Kaplan's recommendation and to secure his readiness for surgery, Rockwell was administered morphine and atrophine and, at approximately 8:30 a.m. he was taken from his room to the 10th floor of the hospital and, while in a corridor on that floor, spoke briefly to Dr. Kaplan.

Rockwell was taken into the induction room for the administration of anesthesia which was to be performed by personnel of the Anesthesiology Department, all of whom were employees of the hospital. Of this Department, Dr. Stone was the Chief and he was employed and paid by the hospital. While Dr. Kaplan had ordered a general anesthesia, he did not specifically instruct Dr. Stone as to the nature of the general anesthesia. In the induction room, Rockwell was prepared for an injection of sodium pentothal to be followed by a general anesthesia of cyclopropane gas, ether and oxygen. The initial preparation was by Mr. Molnar, a

[ 404 Pa. Page 565]

    registered nurse doing graduate work in anesthesiology who was employed and paid by the hospital. When Rockwell was prepared for the injection of sodium pentothal, Molnar notified his superior, Dr. Stone. Dr. Stone, busy at the time, directed a Dr. Jiminez, a resident physician and a hospital employee in the Anesthesiology Department, to administer sodium pentothal.

Dr. Jiminez had injected the needle in Rockwell's left arm and was proceeding with the sodium pentothal injection when Rockwell instantaneously cried out with pain in his left forearm and hand. Dr. Jiminez then either removed the needle or it slipped out and he went to summon Dr. Stone. When Dr. Stone arrived, Rockwell, although under the effects of the sodium pentothal, could be aroused. Rockwell's left arm was then blanched and he had very little pulse. ...


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