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Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in a hospital can be heard by trial court

Indiana Court of Appeals rules that Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in a hospital can be heard by a trial court

An appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals was handed down on September 26, 2014. Originally a Marion County Superior Court civil case, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided that the normal procedures for a medical malpractice case did not have to be followed when a hospital inflicts intentional emotional distress on a patient.

On Shacare Terry’s 21st birthday, she consumed a drug associated with date rape at a club. She blacked out and was taken to Community Hospital in Indianapolis, where she was treated in the emergency department. An exam noted possible vaginal trauma, but a rape kit was not completed, no evidence was preserved, and staff did not contact the police. She was also not told by staff she may have been raped.

While being treated, staff members called her an “addict” and told her they did not like treating addicts. One staff member also wrote “Happy Birthday” next to the doctor’s notation regarding her possible vaginal trauma.

She sued the hospital in Marion County Superior Court, alleging breach of duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted Community’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Terry’s claims sounded like medical malpractice and were subject to requirements of the Act. Since she had not filed them first for review before a medical review panel, the trial court argued that it did not have jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals disagreed and stated that the ugly statements made to Terry “were made only to disparage her and were unrelated to medical treatment” and could have been made by nonmedical, hospital staff. Terry will now be able to have her case heard by the Superior Court and seek damages there.

Read more about Appellate Decisions.

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