Discussion: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

A 33-year-old male swallows 30 antidepressants and tells his wife, “I want to die.” She takes him to the local hospital’s emergency department, where he is treated and released that same evening. In the hospital parking lot, he pushes a security guard and is arrested and taken into custody. In the county jail, a nurse places the man on suicide watch. 

The following evening, while the man is still in custody, a psychologist speaks to him for five minutes, then releases him from suicide watch. The man is returned to his cell, and two hours later, he hangs himself.

  • Does the emergency department have liability for discharging a suicidal patient without further treatment?
  • Does the psychologist have liability for releasing the patient from suicide watch after a five-minute consultation?
  • The psychologist is an “independent contractor” of the jail. Is the county liable for his actions?

LO 5.2

A woman gave birth in the back seat of a taxicab while en route to the hospital. To what standard of care would each of the following individuals be held?

The taxicab driver who comforted the mother

A registered nurse, also a passenger in the cab, who assisted the mother A physician in general practice who was a passenger in the cab with the expectant mother and assisted the birth taking place in the cab

A police officer who stopped the cab for speeding, observed the situation, and assisted with the birth

A woman trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) worked as the office manager for an insurance business. When her coworker at the next desk had a heart attack and fell to the floor, the office manager began CPR and shouted for others in the room to dial 911. The department supervisor came running and told the office manager to stop CPR. She reluctantly obeyed. Emergency medical technicians arrived, but the heart attack victim died.

The victim’s husband sued the supervisor, the office manager, and the employees’ parent organization for failure to render medical assistance. In a finding for the defendants, an appeals court ruled there was “no duty of care” for the employees to render assistance. Despite this court’s ruling, in a similar situation, would you have acted as the CPR-trained office manager did? Explain your answer