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Hospital owes no duty to patient being discharged

Michale Chelik broke an arm while in Lansing to assist in a theater production.  Chelik was part of a Disney Broadway production at the Wharton Center when he fell while walking to his car.  He was taken to Sparrow Hospital where his fractured left elbow and forearm were placed in a splint; he was discharged and told to see his orthopedic surgeon the following day.  He asked not to be discharged, apparently, citing the fact that it was now 5:55 am, he was exhausted, and he had a 25-30 mile drive to his motel.  The Hospital said it did not have a bed for him and called a cab.

While the cabbie was helping Chelik into the cab, Chelik fell and fractured his right arm.  He later sued Sparrow for negligence, arguing that it owed a duty to allow him to stay on the premises, given the circumstances.  The Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge's directed verdict against Chelik, ruling that "Michigan law does not impose a duty upon a hospital to assist a discharged patient with transportation."

Because Chelik was "stable" and the hospital had performed a "fall risk assessment" at some point prior to discharge, the judges ruled that it was "not reasonably foreseeable that plaintiff would injure himself."  The Hospital "had no control" and "there was no special relationship between Sparrow and plaintiff." To his credit, Judge Hoekstra refused to sign on to the opinion authored by Judges Saad and Boonstra.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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