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Sexual misconduct doesn't fall under MedMal act

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The Indiana Court of Appeals today affirmed a trial court determination that an employee's sexual conduct with a patient can't constitute a rendition of health care or professional services, so a negligent hiring complaint against a hospital based on that conduct doesn't fall under the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act.

In Fairbanks Hospital v. Dan Harrold, Eva Harrold, Natalie Harrold, and Indiana Department of Insurance, No. 49A02-0712-CV-1055, the Court of Appeals had to consider whether a complaint alleging negligent hiring, training, and supervision of a hospital employee falls within the act if the underlying tort allegedly committed by the employee was unwanted sexual advances.

Eighteen-year-old Natalie Harrold was admitted to Fairbanks' adolescent unit for inpatient substance abuse treatment. Adolescent guidance counselor Larry Shears participated in Harrold's care in September 1997. Shears later hugged, kissed, and patted Natalie on her buttocks on more than one occasion and urged her to call him. After she was discharged, Natalie reported Shears behavior; he was later fired.

The Harrolds' filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance and in Marion Superior Court, including an allegation of negligent supervision against Fairbanks. Fairbanks sought a ruling as a matter of law that the Harrolds' claims fall within the scope of the state's Medical Malpractice Act.

Citing Winona Memorial Hospital, Ltd. Partnership v. Kuester, 737 N.E.2d 824 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), the appellate court wrote that both allegedly tortious acts - that the hospital was negligent and the employee's alleged negligence - that comprise a patient's claim of malpractice must sound in medical malpractice and not merely ordinary negligence, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

In the instant case, Shears sexual misconduct with Natalie doesn't constitute a rendition of health care or professional services, so a claim based on the conduct doesn't fall under the act, wrote the judge. Because Shear's conduct doesn't fall under the act, the negligence claim against Fairbanks also can't fall within the scope of the act.

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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