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TAYLOR ET VIR v. SPENCER HOSPITAL (06/22/72)

decided: June 22, 1972.

TAYLOR ET VIR, APPELLANTS,
v.
SPENCER HOSPITAL



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Feb. T., 1968, No. 9, in case of Lela A. Taylor and Harry Taylor v. Spencer Hospital.

COUNSEL

Kenneth W. Behrend, with him Joseph U. Esper, and Behrend & Aronson, for appellants.

Robert L. Walker, with him Charles J. Swick, and Thomas, Shafer, Walker, Dornhaffer & Swick, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Packel, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Wright, P. J., and Jacobs, J., would affirm on the opinion of President Judge Thomas.

Author: Hoffman

[ 222 Pa. Super. Page 19]

This is an appeal from the denial of appellant's motion for a new trial, following a jury verdict in favor of appellee hospital. Appellants contend that the lower court committed reversible error by (1) refusing to allow a medical doctor to give testimony as to the accepted standards, customs, and practice for hospital care of psychogenic patients, (2) refusing to allow a licensed practical nurse to give testimony as to the accepted standards for nursing care of psychogenic patients, and (3) refusing to permit a licensed practical nurse to give her education, experience, and other qualifications to establish her expertise.

On November 15, 1965, appellant Lela Taylor, age 64, appeared to be ill and acting abnormally. Relatives called the family doctor, and he came to Mrs. Taylor's home. After observing that Mrs. Taylor was disoriented, the doctor arranged her admission to appellee hospital the same day. The family doctor turned Mrs. Taylor over to Dr. Hendrik DeKruif, who, upon her admission to the hospital, arranged an examination and acted as her physician while she was in the hospital. The admitting nurse and Dr. DeKruif were apparently informed by the family doctor that Mrs. Taylor's behavior had been somewhat unusual and that closer than usual patient observation was in order.

Dr. DeKruif made an initial tentative diagnosis of "arteriosclerosis." Routine tests were ordered and the patient's conduct and history for November 15 and 16 were not overtly abnormal. In the early morning of

[ 222 Pa. Super. Page 20]

November 17, Mrs. Taylor became restless and confused, and she could not sleep. She was given light medication, and for the remainder of that day she appeared relatively normal. In the evening of November 17, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Mrs. Taylor went into a treatment room not normally used by patients and attempted to block nurses from approaching her by holding the door closed. The nurses took her into custody and noticed that she seemed confused and disoriented. Two nurses escorted Mrs. Taylor back to her room.

Dr. DeKruif was called by telephone, and he authorized nurses to apply restraints to keep her in bed until he could arrive at the hospital. The restraints applied consisted of ankle and wrist straps fitted around her extremities and fastened to the bed and a posey belt fitted around the waist and then tied to the bed. A nurse's aide was left with her for a short period until she calmed down and was resting quietly. Ten or fifteen minutes after the aide left the room, Mrs. Taylor was discovered out in the middle of the street in front of the hospital and was brought back to the hospital by nurses with some of the restraints still dangling from her extremities.

An investigation revealed that the screen in Mrs. Taylor's room had been removed, and she apparently jumped out the window into a snow bank, fracturing a bone in her heel and her pelvis. She was transferred to St. Francis Hospital in Pittsburgh the next day and there treated medically and psychiatrically.

Mrs. Taylor could not explain why or how she had leaped from the hospital window. She testified that she had no recollection of ...


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