Trunkl V. Regents Of University Of California Medical System

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HCA333 Mod 7 Lecture Notes

We will examine two cases this module. In Trunkl v. Regents of University of California, Hugo
Trunkl filed a case of alleged negligence in hopes of recovering damages for a resulting personal injury. The case was brought against the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, a hospital operated and maintained by the Regents of the University of California as a nonprofit charitable institution. Following Hugo Trunkl’s death, the case was carried on by his surviving wife. The old rule in the United States gave charitable or religious hospitals complete immunity to suits of negligence. Further, any other two parties could normally agree to waive negligence of another in a medical setting. In the new rule, as set forth by California, states that, “All contracts which have for their object, directly or indirectly to exempt anyone from responsibility for his own fraud, or willful injury to the person or property of another, or violation of law, whether willful or negligent, are against the policy of the law.” In other words, the charitable hospitals lost all of their immunity.

The court held that patient-hospital contracts fall within all contracts affecting public interest. If the interest is a public interest, the negligence can never be waived. It was determined that the admission room in the hospital is not a bargaining table, therefore the hospital insisting the patient accept the waiver provisions in the contract gained an unfair advantage over the patient who was in no position to reject the proffered agreement.

In Shorter v. Drury, the case is an appeal for the wrongful death medical malpractice of the bleeding death of patient who refused blood transfusions for religious reasons. Doreen Shorter, a Jehovah Witness was prohibited by her religion to receive blood transfusions. Mrs. Shorter was pregnant and had a “missed abortion” meaning the fetus had died and the uterus failed to

discharge it. It is medically prudent to evacuate the uterus to guard against infection in such a case. A “dilation and curettage”, a D and C, was recommended to evacuate the uterus.

There are three primary methods for conducting a D and C. Dr. Drury chose the method that