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Posted on March 27th, 2013, by

Bobby’s case is extremely complicated and tragic and on a large scale discriminates the entire health care system of the United States. In fact, the first who is to blame and must be responsible for the listed consequences is the school where the new basketball backboard and rim were installed. Of course, ACE Sports is initially to blame for providing coarse equipment and thus violating consumers’ rights. But the school management is responsible for buying this unchecked equipment. There was virtually someone in charge of acquiring new backboards and rims, and thus the mission was not only to find a producer, distributor and to make an order. The mission was also to provide proper and first and foremost safe sport leisure for the students, as the sports playground is a territory under school control, even though the representatives of school officials or teachers were not present at the accident. Even if this case took place during a lesson, the teacher could hardly prevent the injuries as nobody was going to check whether the gain was ready for use. Therefore the school staff should be hold criminally liable for the accident.
Further on, there is an obvious fault of the City General hospital where Bobby was first brought by Rachel. Instead of providing the necessary emergency, the nurse started with trying to get information on family’s insurance. It took more than an hour to find Bobby’s mother, and all this time the boy was bleeding and left without any remedy. In this way the City General Hospital has violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (ENTALA) passed as early as in 1986. This Act was dictated by the need to avoid the practice of patient damping, when the patients were refused medical assistance (just like in Bobby’s case) or discharged prematurely for insufficient insurance and inability to pay. The Act obliges every hospital equipped for emergency healthcare to provide this care to everyone who applies for it, regardless of age, race, citizenship, ability to pay and even legal status. The law applies when an individual with a medical emergency comes to the emergency department, regardless of whether the condition is visible to others, or is simply stated by the patient with no external evidence, as Jeffrey Rowes (9092) explains.

As for the reservation of being equipped, there is a strong doubt that the City General could lack emergency room and other necessary facilities. As for the state of the boy, it was virtually an emergency medical condition, which is defined as a condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in placing the individual’s health in serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of bodily organs (EMTALA). The limb-threatening symptoms reported by Bobby should have been taken to account and treated according to the EMTALA obligations. Of course, the hospital was free not to provide all the following treatment, but it was legally obliged to stabilize the patient to make him conscious, alert and oriented and only after that transfer him appropriately to another hospital. For not paying Bobby’s family could be responsible for the costs under civil law, but not held criminally liable. Instead, now the actors of the case will probably all be criminally liable.

Next, Dr. Andrews made a serious mistake during the surgery. The medical negligence has caused an additional physical damage to a boy, thus his blame falls under the tort law for harm caused by carelessness. Either physician or the county facility will have to pay compensation for both physical and moral damage (the loss of two hands by Bobby). The extent of personal doctor’s responsibility depends on his own medical malpractice insurance, though malpractice committed by Dr. Williams is rather rough. In any case, there is a rather high risk for Dr. Williams to loose his license.

On the whole, all the offenders listed above share comparative negligence. It means that it is more important to define the degree to which each of them is negligent for damages of the victim, not the combined negligence. Certainly, there is a small degree of Bobby’s own fault, but in comparison with others, it fairly does not matter. Actually, the eventual decision on the distribution of penalties will depend on the work of their legal advisors who will work with more detailed information and may find some mitigating factors. Then, joint liability will make other offenders held a larger liability. In several (or proportionate) liability, each party would be liable for their own respective obligations. Still, the case is rather to apply all sums, that is joint and several liability together, under which a claimant may pursue an obligation against any one party as if they were jointly liable and it becomes the responsibility of the defendants to sort out their respective proportions of liability and payment (Philips et al. 125).

Works Cited
U. S. Congress. Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (1986). Retrieved from EMTALA FAQ
Phillips R. L., Bartholomew L. A., Dovey S. M., Fryer G. E., Miyoshi T. J., & Green L. A. (2004). Learning from malpractice claims about negligent, adverse events in primary care in the United States. Qual Saf Health Care, 13 (2), 121126.
Rowes, Jeffrey (2000). EMTALA: OIG/HCFA Special Advisory Bulletin Clarifies EMTALA, American College of Emergency Physicians Criticizes It. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 28 (1): 9092.


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