Torts Keyed to Dobbs
Lewellen v. Schneck Medical Center
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Plaintiff Lewellen was in a serious drunk driving accident and was taken to the Defendant Schneck Medical Center emergency room. Dr. John Reisert examined him and noted that he was complaining of lower back pain. Reisert ordered x-rays of his lumbar and cervical spine to determine whether there was a facture. The quality of the x-rays were poor and there was a dispute in the records whether the poor quality was because Lewellen was in significant pain and unable to turn on his side or whether he was being uncooperative. Before the last of Lewellen’s x-rays had even printed off (and before the doctor had a chance to review them) and only an hour after coming to the hospital, Lewellen was discharged. He insisted he was in great pain and should be treated, not discharged, but nevertheless he was told to leave. Thereafter a police officer took him immediately to jail. While in jail, he had a burst fracture in his spine that was damaging his spinal nerves. Later that night, jail officer McPherson noticed Lewellen crying in pain and saw that he had urinated all over himself. The McPherson called defendant’s emergency room where a nurse told him that someone had reviewed the x-ray and found an abnormality, but despite the abnormality, Lewellen should not come back to the hospital. Upset with this response, McPherson implored the jail commander to get medical help for Lewellen. This was done and an ambulance was called to pick him up. Lewellen arrived back at Schneck hospital and a CT scan revealed that during the night in jail, a fragment of bone from the burst fracture had displaced and was impinging on his spinal column, resulting in permanent neurological defects. Thereafter, he could not urinate or defecate on his own and suffered from sexual dysfunction. Lewellen sued the hospital under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”). Defendant moved for summary judgment.
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