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Following an automobile accident, a 16-year-old boy who had recently escaped from a detention center was brought to the hospital emergency department by ambulance. The patient seemed to be alert and claimed to be suffering withdrawal symptoms from a drug habit. The patient claimed that he participated in a methadone treatment program. The physician administered 40 milligrams of methadone. The patient needed blood but refused it. After being observed in the emergency department for several hours, the patient was placed on a medical-surgical unit for observation. The following morning it was not possible to awaken him, and he was pronounced dead. It was discovered that he had never been an addict or in a methadone treatment program. Rather, the previous night he had been drinking beer and taking librium. He had not told this to hospital authorities. His estate sued the physician. Consider the possible outcomes if death was the result of (1) overdose, (2) failure to administer blood, or (3) subdural hematoma. Consider the possible outcomes if the patient was not a minor.

Selected Questions for Case Discussions

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1. Are all the elements required in a negligence suit present?

2. What about a crime?

3. What standard of care is required?

4. How would you argue for the plaintiff?

5. What evidence would you present?

6. How would you defend the defendant?

7. What are your defense options?

8. If you were on the jury, what would your finding be/

9. If you find the defendant responsible, what damages would you award, and for what reasons?

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