Mullins v. Parkview Hosp., Inc.

865 N.E.2d 608 (Ind. 2007)



An actor is subject to liability to another for battery if (a) he acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other or a third person, or an imminent apprehension of such a contact, and (b) a harmful contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results.


A patient and her husband sued defendants hospital, doctors, and student for battery, seeking damages for injuries allegedly suffered by the patient during a surgical procedure. Although the patient had not consented to the presence of healthcare learners during her surgery, the student was brought into the operating room during the surgery and attempted an intubation, as a result of which the patient was injured. The trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants. The Court of Appeals of Indiana, Fourth District, affirmed summary judgment for the hospital but reversed it in respect to the other defendants holding that the patient had sufficiently stated a battery claim against the student to avoid summary judgment. The student and one of the doctors and his practice appealed.


Was the patient's consent obtained?




The trial court's grant of summary judgment to the student was affirmed. In all other respects, the opinion of the intermediate appellate court was summarily affirmed. The Court ruled that the doctors obtained consent from the patient for her surgery. During the surgery, the student's "preceptor" entered the operating room and asked if the patient was an appropriate subject for intubation. One of the doctors granted permission, and the student entered the operating room and tried the intubation. The student had no reason to suspect that the patient had modified the standard consent form. The student was not obligated to obtain consent herself or inquire into the consent under which the doctors were acting. The fact that the student did not personally secure consent did not independently raise the student's harmful touching of the patient to a battery. The patient failed to show that the student intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact.

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