Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, October 20, 2016


Page 1


C.A: Malpractice Time-Bar Applies to Suit Over Fall From Hospital Gurney


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A suit against a hospital by a patient who fell from a gurney was barred by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to medical negligence cases, the Fourth District Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court on Tuesday ordered published its Sept. 23 opinion in which it affirmed an Orange Superior Court judge’s dismissal of the suit brought by Manuel Nava against Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. Div. Three cited Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (2016) 63 Cal. 4th 75, which reversed the Court of Appeal and applied Code of Civil Procedure §340.5 to an action charging a hospital with negligently contributing to injuries that a patient suffered in a fall in her room.

Nava was being transferred within the hospital when he fell from the gurney in February 2012. Just under two years later, he filed suit alleging that the hospital was negligent.

Judge Geoffrey Glass granted summary judgment on the ground that §340.5, rather than the two-year general negligence statute, governed the action. The one-year statute, by its terms, applies to “an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence.”

The section defines “professional negligence” as “a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services.”

Justice Richard Fybel, writing for the Court of Appeal, noted that Flores rejected the argument that “professional services” means those requiring a specialized level of skill. The governing test in a case involving the use of equipment, he said, is whether the equipment was reasonably required to provide medical treatment.

Not all equipment found in a medical facility will meet the definition, he explained. Some items, such as furniture and television sets, “are provided primarily for the comfort and convenience of patients and visitors, but generally play no part in the patient’s medical diagnosis or treatment,” he explained.

The gurney from which Nava fell, he went on to say, was used to transfer him in accordance with a medical professional’s directive, much as the setting of the height of the bedrail, the alleged cause of the plaintiff’s fall in Flores, was based on a doctor’s decision.

Pre-Flores decisions and out-of-state cases cited by the plaintiff “do not provide insight,” because Flores is controlling, he said.

The case is Nava v. Saddleback Memorial Hospital, 16 S.O.S. 55190.


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