Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., Nos. 10

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtBefore the Entire Bench, except BLACK; KAVANAGH; In DeGroot v. The Edison Institute, supra; SMITH, EDWARDS and SOURIS, JJ., concurred with KAVANAGH; CARR; DETHMERS, C. J., and KELLY, J., concurred with CARR
Citation105 N.W.2d 1,361 Mich. 1
PartiesCharles PARKER, Administrator of the Estate of Elizabeth Catherine Parker, Deceased, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. PORT HURON HOSPITAL, a Michigan corporation, Defendant and Appellant, Walter S. Novak et al., Defendants. Charles PARKER, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. PORT HURON HOSPITAL, a Michigan corporation, Defendant and Appellant. an. Term.
Decision Date15 September 1960
Docket Number11,Nos. 10,J

Page 1

105 N.W.2d 1
361 Mich. 1
Charles PARKER, Administrator of the Estate of Elizabeth
Catherine Parker, Deceased, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
PORT HURON HOSPITAL, a Michigan corporation, Defendant and Appellant,
Walter S. Novak et al., Defendants.
Charles PARKER, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
PORT HURON HOSPITAL, a Michigan corporation, Defendant and Appellant.
Nos. 10, 11, Jan. Term.
Supreme Court of Michigan.
Sept. 15, 1960.

[361 Mich. 3]

Page 2

William J. McBrearty, Detroit, Covington, Davidson & Osborn, Port Huron, for plaintiff and appellee.

Moll, Desenberg, Purdy & Glover, Detroit, for defendant and appellant.

Before the Entire Bench, except BLACK, J.

[361 Mich. 4] KAVANAGH, Justice.

Defendant Port Huron Hospital, a nonprofit Michigan hospital corporation, appeals from jury verdicts against it in 2 actions brought by the husband of Elizabeth Catherine Parker, deceased. Mr. Parker brought one action in his own right for out-

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of-pocket expenses and loss of his wife's services, and the second action as administrator of her estate for damages for her wrongful death. These actions were consolidated for trial. The verdict in the husband's action was for $548 and in the administrator's action the verdict was for $20,000. The 2 physicians and surgeons who attended the decedent were joined as parties defendant, and verdicts of no cause for action were returned as to them. Certain hospital employees were joined as parties defendant, but the suits against them were dismissed prior to trial.

Plaintiff's wife, a 31-year old mother of 4 children, was admitted to Port Huron Hospital on January 27, 1952, as a full-paying patient. The purpose of this hospitalization was to have performed a total hysterectomy, the operation having been previously advised by Dr. Walter S. Novak following a diagnosis by him of cancer of the cervix. Dr. Novak made all the arrangements for admission and had complete charge of the case.

Certain pre-operative preparations were administered to Mrs. Parker the evening of her admission, including certain blood tests by Mrs. Jeanette Weber, a laboratory technician in Port Huron Hospital laboratory, to determine Mrs. Parker's blood type. Mrs. Weber was the only laboratory technician working that evening. She testified she was tired and overworked and that in drawing the blood sample from Mrs. Parker she didn't mark the patient's name or identification on the tube while at her bedside--she simply dropped a slip of paper around the tube. This procedure was contrary to universal standard [361 Mich. 5] practice required in this and other hospitals. On the same trip to Mrs. Parker's floor to obtain her blood sample, Mrs. Weber had taken samples from 2 other patients. She returned to the laboratory with the 3 samples and commenced the work of typing the samples, but was interrupted to do an immediate blood typing for a fourth patient. On her return to the work on the first 3 samples, she confused the sample tubes and the identification slips and designated Mrs. Parker's blood type as A-RH positive rather than the correct blood type O-RH positive.

During the operation on Mrs. Parker the following morning, she was administered one unit of type A-RH positive blood while under anaesthetic. The operation was completed and the patient left the table in apparently good condition, according to the record of operation. She was removed to a ward room, where Mr. Parker was with her until approximately 11:45 a. m. At approximately 1:00 p. m. in the afternoon of the same day, Mr. Parker was called by telephone and requested by someone at the hospital to return because his wife 'had a little bad spell.' Upon his return, at about 1:30 p. m., he found her bed empty and the sheets covered with blood. He made inquiry as to her condition and was told nothing but to wait. Testimony developed that Mrs. Parker received no attention from a doctor nor any medical treatment until after 3:00 p. m. Dr. Novak testified that when he reached her side it was discovered the patient was in severe shock and hemorrhaging badly 'without a pulse and practically dead.' Subsequently, she was again taken to surgery and while in surgery for the second time the laboratory technician's mistake with reference to the blood typing was discovered. This mistake was reported to the operating surgeons. The record of operation shows that incompatible blood and mismatching of blood had caused hemorrhagic diathesis. The second surgery[361 Mich. 6] was completed and Mrs. Parker was returned to her room. As a result of the incompatible blood transfusion Mrs. Parker suffered a complete kidney failure or renal shutdown, lingered until the early morning hours of February 10, 1952, and died. The cause of death, as reported on the death record signed by Dr. Walter S. Novak, was 'acute nephrosis (lower nephron syndrome) incompatible blood transfusion.'

In connection with the pain, discomfort and mental suffering endured by decedent during the 13 days of complicated treatment

Page 4

following her operations, testimony disclosed that Mrs. Parker's arms and legs were black and blue from the many injections and intravenous feedings she received; that she had a catheter in her bladder the entire time; that she was swollen and in pain and discomfort constantly until the final hours of her life, when she was thrashing, pulling her hair and screaming in pain to the point where the husband could stand it no longer and was forced to leave the hospital room. One of the complications that ended Mrs. Parker's life was pulmonary edema, resulting in handicapping her breathing, which caused her extreme apprehension and mental distress.

A lengthy trial resulted covering all the allegations of negligence with reference to the doctors, Mrs. Weber, and other hospital employees. Considerable testimony was taken upon the question of whether Port Huron Hospital was in fact a charitable institution. Plaintiff denied it was. Defendant hospital contended it met the qualifications of such an institution. The record discloses that the Port Huron Hospital was organized as a nonprofit institution under Michigan law. 1 The record further discloses that it [361 Mich. 7] was a completely self-sustaining institution from an operating standpoint, and that its policy is to adjust charges to patients from time to time to enable it to fully meet its operating expenses. Defendant hospital has operating revenues exceeding $1,000,000 annually, and had assets of over $1,808,000 as of December 31, 1954. The hospital originally was constructed by public subscription and government funds, and a recent sizable addition was financed in the same way. The testimony discloses that the hospital is completely unrelated to the city of Port Huron except for an agreement between the two under which the city turned over to defendant a former contagious hospital with the agreement to pay $15,000 per year to the hospital for building maintenance in lieu of operating the contagious unit. In all the years for which financial figures were introduced by defendant hospital, only one year--1954--showed an operating loss, and the hospital administrator said that was immediately taken care of by adjusting the rates upward. While the hospital administrator claimed they admitted charity patients, he could not substantiate this, and no effort was made on the part of defendant hospital to do so. The record further discloses that many organizations pay for the patients they send to Port Huron hospital, including State Crippled Children Commission, St. Clair County Welfare Department, Veterans Administration, and Soldiers and Sailors Relief Fund. The hospital administrator testified that in the year 1952 he would guess approximately 65% to 70% of the patients carried hospital insurance. The testimony further discloses that the hospital did receive some charitable contributions for operating expenses, but these were negligible as compared to receipts from patients. Net income from patients for the year 1952, after bad debts charged off that year and prior years, amounted to $1,003,725.92; and the [361 Mich. 8] opporating expense contributions, other than the contribution of the city of Port Huron of $15,000, amounted to $2,163.24.

Plaintiff claims the retention of proven inefficient and incompetent employees was negligence. He also contends that conduct of Mrs. Weber in regard to failure to follow standard practice and rules with reference to attaching the name to the tube of blood was negligence. He claims the treatment following the second surgery was such as to constitute negligence of the doctor defendants. Plaintiff further alleges there was careless, inadequate and inaccurate record keeping on the part of defendant hospital and defendant doctors in that only parts of required records were preserved and others, including the nurses' notes, were missing entirely; that hospital

Page 5

rules were ignored; and that provisions of the Michigan Administrative Code, which require that hospitals preserve complete medical records in every case, specifically including nurses' notes, were violated.

It is admitted by defendant hospital that the negligence of one of its employees, acting within the scope of her employment, caused the death of Mrs. Parker.

Defendant hospital moved for a directed verdict at the close of plaintiff's case and at the close of all the proofs on the ground that it was immune from liability as a 'charitable' institution. These motions were taken under advisement under the Empson Act.

After jury verdicts were entered, defendant hospital subsequently filed motions for judgments notwithstanding the verdicts and for new trials, all of which were denied.

[361 Mich. 9] We acknowledge briefs amicus curiae from the Greater Detroit Area Hospital Council, Inc., and Michigan Hospital Association, which have been very helpful in presenting the various legal aspects of this important case.

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111 practice notes
  • Loweke v. Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Co., Docket No. 141168.Calendar No. 6.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 6 Junio 2011
    ...Clark, 379 Mich. at 261, 150 N.W.2d 755; see, also, Rinaldo's Constr., 454 Mich. at 84, 559 N.W.2d 647; Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 11, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960) (“It should be noted that ... at the common law ... the general rule has been that one is liable for his negligence or tor......
  • People v. Woolfolk, Docket No. 312056.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 27 Febrero 2014
    ...the caselaw that has preceded us, under the long-standing doctrine of stare decisis, see [848 N.W.2d 184]Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 10, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960), and we would plunge into the age-old debate about when, if at all, the courts should change the common law. See, e.g., W......
  • Lowe v. Estate Motors Ltd., Docket Nos. 77914
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 12 Octubre 1987
    ...were "confused [and] irreconcilable." They were consistent and in full agreement, one with the other. See Parker v. Port Huron Hospital, 361 Mich. 1, 105 N.W.2d...
  • Federation of Personnel v. University, Docket No. 133819.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 16 Julio 2008
    ...Theft: A Strategic Plan, April 2007. at 1 (accessed May 29, 2008). 18. Id. at 39. 19. Id. at 11-12. 20. Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 24-25, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960); Brown v. Bd. of Ed., 347 U.S. 483, 492-495, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 21. MCL 15.243(1)(a). 22. The burden is on the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
111 cases
  • Loweke v. Ann Arbor Ceiling & Partition Co., Docket No. 141168.Calendar No. 6.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 6 Junio 2011
    ...Clark, 379 Mich. at 261, 150 N.W.2d 755; see, also, Rinaldo's Constr., 454 Mich. at 84, 559 N.W.2d 647; Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 11, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960) (“It should be noted that ... at the common law ... the general rule has been that one is liable for his negligence or tor......
  • People v. Woolfolk, Docket No. 312056.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 27 Febrero 2014
    ...the caselaw that has preceded us, under the long-standing doctrine of stare decisis, see [848 N.W.2d 184]Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 10, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960), and we would plunge into the age-old debate about when, if at all, the courts should change the common law. See, e.g., W......
  • Lowe v. Estate Motors Ltd., Docket Nos. 77914
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 12 Octubre 1987
    ...were "confused [and] irreconcilable." They were consistent and in full agreement, one with the other. See Parker v. Port Huron Hospital, 361 Mich. 1, 105 N.W.2d...
  • Federation of Personnel v. University, Docket No. 133819.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 16 Julio 2008
    ...Theft: A Strategic Plan, April 2007. at 1 (accessed May 29, 2008). 18. Id. at 39. 19. Id. at 11-12. 20. Parker v. Port Huron Hosp., 361 Mich. 1, 24-25, 105 N.W.2d 1 (1960); Brown v. Bd. of Ed., 347 U.S. 483, 492-495, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873 21. MCL 15.243(1)(a). 22. The burden is on the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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