Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Despite the: great number of tort cases which have arisen between hospitals and their patients, comparatively little has been written upon the subject of the standard of care required of a hospital in its relationship with those who enter it for treatment. In this Note some of the types of problems arising out of this relationship will be examined.' Questions of substantive and procedural law will be treated together in order to present these problems more clearly.

Generally, public hospitals are excused from tort liability to their patients upon the ground of governmental immunity ; in most states charitable institutions enjoy some degree of limited liability upon one of several theories, all or most of which rest upon an underlying public policy. Since supposedly no public policy favors the exemption from liability of private hospitals conducted for profit, cases involving such institutions present most clearly the problems of the standard of care required in the hospital-patient relationship. Therefore only those cases and cases in which charitable institutions have been held fully responsible to their patients will be considered herein. Cases involving the liability of hospitals to employees, licensees, and persons other than patients are not within the scope of this Note. No express attention is given to the problems of the extent of damages, cause in fact, or legal cause, although in any discussion of duty these problems are involved to some extent.