HOSPITAL HAS NO DUTY TO DIRECTLY REPORT RESULTS TO PATIENT WHEN PERFORMING TESTING ORDERED BY DOCTOR
In Walker v. Sonora Regional Medical Center (filed January 12, 2012) 2012 DJDAR 553, Amber Walker engaged the services of her personal physician, Dr. Teel, for pregnancy care. Among the prenatal laboratory tests that Dr. Teel ordered was a cystic fibrosis screening test to detect her genetic predisposition of having a child with cystic fibrosis. She went to Sonora Regional Medical Center (Hospital) where she had a blood specimen taken which was sent to a Salt Lake City laboratory that did the genetic testing; that laboratory then sent the results back to Hospital and Hospital promptly transmitted the results to Dr. Teel, who personally reviewed the results, which stated that Amber was a carrier of cystic fibrosis. Dr, Teel made a notation on the lab report to review with the patient, but he never did. Amber suffered a miscarriage.
Several months later, Amber was again pregnant and returned to Dr. Teel's office for eleven prenatal visits over the next 7 months. No mention was ever made of her previous cystic fibrosis test results. Amber declined to undergo another cystic fibrosis test, apparently believing that silence from the doctor's office on the subject meant her results were negative. Amber gave birth to a daughter, Payton, who was later diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
The Walkers sued various defendants, including Hospital, on theories of negligence. Hospital moved in the trial court for summary judgment, primarily on the ground it had no duty to directly notify Amber of the lab results; its sole duty was to notify Dr. Teel, who was then to contact the patient. The trial court agreed, granting the motion. The Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, affirmed.