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Medical Negligence Towards a Patient


A tort constitutes a civil wrong, which is committed by one party against another (El- Ahraf, Qayoumi and Dowd 54). Law of tort is commonly implied when the defendant had the duty to avoid causing harm to the plaintiff as a result of an omission (El- Ahraf, Qayoumi and Dowd 54). The plaintiff on such incidence files a lawsuit against the defendant and seeks damages for compensation.

The government gives the victims of tort negligence the right to pursue tort action against their violators. Professionals and businesspersons often find themselves in situations where they have committed negligence against their clients (either intentionally or none deliberately). Tort is generally classified into intentional tort, which emanates from one party’s deliberate action to cause harm to another, negligence tort that is not deliberate and strict liability that results from one party’s engagement in extremely dangerous activity that causes harm to another person (El- Ahraf, Qayoumi and Dowd 54).

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Negligence tort can be defined as failure to do something which an otherwise reasonable man would do if he found himself in similar circumstances or failure to act the same way a reasonable and prudent human being would act guided by ordinary considerations (El- Ahraf, Qayoumi and Dowd 54). In negligence tort, the defendant does necessarily have the desire to harm the other party but it arises when one party that owes duty to another fails to act reasonably or exercise reasonable care hence causing injury to the other party.

Medical Negligence

This case is built around a Malaria infected patient who dies in hospital after an anaphylactic reaction to penicillin. The nurse on duty had the responsibility to administer drugs to the patient at specific periods as instructed by the doctor. The patient had indicated in his medical records that he was allergic to penicillin and even wore medic alert tag to that effect. The nurse was instructed by the doctor to administer the drug to the patient after which he died.

Consequently, the surviving relatives have moved to court 6 months after the death of the patient and filed a case against the medical practitioners on the grounds of medical negligence. In this case, the four elements of negligence tort are evident. The medical practitioners in this case had the duty of treating the patient, they however failed to take reasonable care whereby the nurse ignored the medic alert tag and the doctor failed to refer to the patient’s medical records before issuing the instructions.

The penicillin injection therefore led to the anaphylactic reaction on the patient, which eventually caused his death. In defense of the lawsuit, the plaintiff would be required to prove the proximate cause of death between the breach in standard of care provided by the nurse and the patient’s injury. They must establish a direct link between the nurses’ action and the death of the patient such that no other intervening event may have caused the death of the patient.

The defense on the other hand should prove that the actions of the medical practitioners had minimal effect to the already deteriorating patient condition and did not actually lead to the patient’s death. The death of the patient occurred as a result of his pre existing medical condition. In this case, damages may be awarded depending on the circumstances of the case and may also include punitive damages if the medical practitioner is found guilty.

Product liability suit: Laaperi v Sears Roebuck & Co Inc

In 1976, the plaintiff in this case Albin Laaperi bought a smoke detector from Sears. This device had been manufactured by Pittway corporation in such a way that it would be powered by electrical current (vLex par 2). Laaperi installed the device in one of the upstairs rooms in his house. On December 27 of the same year, a fire broke out in his house, which left his three sons dead while his daughter Janet sustained serious burns and had to be hospitalized for three weeks (vLex, par 3). Albin Laaperi, in the capacity of an administrator of his dead sons’ estate and as father and next friend to his daughter Janet, filed a law suit in court against Sears Roebuck & Co.

According to the plaintiff, the defendant had the duty to warn him that the smoke detector may fail to operate on occurrence of an electric fire resulting from a short circuit.(vLex par 5) The plaintiff brought forward the testimony at court that the smoke detector failed to perform its required task on occurrence of the fire. The cause of the fire was attributed to a short circuit in one electric cord that was found in the boys’ rooms. The smoke detector consequently lost power as the circuit was already shorted (vLex par 6).

Even though the detector was not defective, it evidently failed to deliver its intended purpose. The plaintiff asserted negligence in the areas of design, manufacturing, failure to warn and breach of warranty against the defendants (vLex par 7) Laaperi claimed that he was unaware of the danger posed by short circuit that could also incapacitate the effectiveness of the smoke detector. The plaintiff further asserted that if the defendants had warned him of the danger, he would have been careful to take the necessary precautions to remedy the situation (vLex par 9).

The jury assessed the damages and awarded an amount of $ 350,000 for every action brought to court on behalf of the dead sons and an amount of $750,000 on behalf of the plaintiff’s injured daughter Janet (vLex par 10). The judgment not withstanding the verdict was denied and this led to the defendant’s appeal.

The defendants claimed that they had no duty to warn the plaintiff against the device incapacitation on the event of some of electrically caused fires and even though such duty existed, they lacked adequate evidence on record to prove that failure to warn proximately caused the injuries (vLex par 12). Massachusetts law dictates that a manufacture shall be liable to the consumers of his products if the consumer suffers harm from the product and the manufacturer failed to act reasonably to protect the consumer from such harm. (vLex, par 13).

Since the sole purpose of the device was to alert occupants on the presence of fire, the company’s failure to warn the customers on the incidences where the device would be incapacitated on events of fire was unreasonable and therefore the decision to award damages to the plaintiff was justified. This lawsuit is an example of action at law since the plaintiff is seeking monetary damages for injuries caused by negligence by the defendant.

Works Cited

El-Ahraf Amer, Qayoumi, H. Mohammad, and Dowd Ron. The impact of public policy on environmental quality and health. New York: Greenwood publishing Group. 1999. Print.

vLex United States: Albin Laaperi, Administrator of the Estate of Alan Laaperi, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc., Et Al., Defendants, Appellants. Albin Laaperi, Administrator of the Estate of James Laaperi, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc., Et Al., Defendants, Appellants. Albin Laaperi, Administrator of the Estate of Paul Laaperi, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc., Et Al., Defendants, Appellants. Janet Laaperi, Ppa, By Her Father, Albin Laaperi, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., Inc., Et Al., Defendants, Appellants., 787 F.2d 726 (1st Cir. 1986) (2010). Web.