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Appellate Court Discusses Hospitals'€™ Duty when Allowing Intoxicated Patients to Drive Home Without Warning

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A court recently released an interesting ruling in a medical malpractice case, explaining the duty that hospitals and medical providers have to warn patients of the possibly intoxicating effects of any medications a patient was given prior to their release. In the case of Davis v. South Nassau Community Hospital, the issue before the court was not the hospital's duty directly to the patient, but instead the duty to third parties who may be injured by a patient who causes an auto accident after being released from the doctor's care under the influence of intoxicating drugs without warning.

The Plaintiff is Injured in an Accident Caused by a Released Patient

The lawsuit underlying this appeal was filed after the plaintiff was injured in a car accident that was allegedly caused by a patient who had recently been released by the defendant hospital. In March 2009, the patient herself was involved in an auto accident and had been treated with pain and anxiety medications by the hospital less than two hours before her release.

According to the appellate opinion, the patient was not warned that the medication in her system could prevent her from operating a motor vehicle safely, and she caused an accident shortly after she was released from the hospital. The plaintiff claimed that the hospital had a legal duty to warn patients who may remain under the influence of intoxicating drugs after their release, and the plaintiff requested damages from the hospital to compensate her for the injuries caused when the released patient allegedly caused the crash.

The Court Agrees that the Hospital Has a Responsibility to Warn Patients Before Discharge

After discussing the relevant laws and similarly decided cases, the court ruled that the hospital does have a unique duty to members of the public in the vicinity of the hospital to warn patients that may be intoxicated before allowing them to drive themselves home. This type of duty could very easily apply to an Illinois medical malpractice or personal injury lawsuit as well, depending on the circumstances. Illinois medical providers have a duty to warn patients of the possible side effects of medications that are administered while the patient is receiving medical treatment. Under the theory relied upon in this case, that duty would extend to other third parties who may be harmed by a medical provider’s' failure to warn.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or is a victim of medical malpractice, the Chicago personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice attorneys at the Cavanagh Law Group can help you make a strong case for damages. Our Illinois accident and malpractice lawyers are dedicated to our craft, and we have secured millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We have the experience needed to make the most of your claim without completely interrupting your life. Our Chicago accident lawyers represent victims in most medical malpractice, personal injury, and wrongful death cases.

When Winning Is the Only Option, Contact CLG

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