Discussion 03.4: Injured Nurse

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Scenario (based on a real Florida case): A home healthcare and dialysis nurse visited one of her home health patients and found him in a weakened state. Concerned, she took the patient to a hospital emergency room, and after several hours, the patient was admitted to the hospital. In an effort to help and show concern for the patient, the nurse followed the emergency room technician to assist in transferring the patient. The technician’s duties included transferring patients from gurneys to beds. The first step in a transfer is to lock the two beds together. If there is no one aiding in the patient transfer, the bed railing on the opposite side must be in the upright position to prevent the patient from rolling off the bed during the transfer. In this case, the technician positioned the gurney next to the hospital bed to facilitate a rolling transfer, but did not place the bed railing on the opposite side in the upright position. The nurse stood at the foot of the gurney while the patient was asked to roll from the gurney onto the hospital bed. The nurse thought the patient was about to roll off the far side of the bed, and she jumped across the bed to grab him. When the nurse grabbed the patient, she felt a sharp pain across her lower back, and severe pain radiating into her left leg. Due to this injury, the nurse filed suit against the hospital alleging negligence and medical negligence.

  1. Although she was essentially just a visitor at this time, what duty of care did the hospital owe to the nurse?
  2. What affirmative defenses might the hospital raise? Is the hospital entirely to blame, or might the nurse have played a role in causing her own injuries? Why or why not?

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