May 28, 2022

Background Facts

On March 19, 2012, plaintiff presented to an immediate-care facility complaining of abdominal pain. Following orders given to him at the immediate-care center, plaintiff went to defendant’s outpatient department for diagnostic imaging. Plaintiff was diagnosed with acute appendicitis and transferred to defendant’s emergency room to undergo an appendectomy. The appendectomy was performed by Dr. Prentiss. During the procedure, Dr. Prentiss unsuccessfully attempted to insert a Foley catheter. Dr. Smith, a urologist, was eventually consulted to insert a Coude catheter.

Plaintiff’s third-amended pro se complaint named only defendant and consisted of one count of medical battery. That count alleged that despite plaintiff “explicitly inform[ing] [defendant’s] nurses and support staff that he did not want a urinary catheter inserted into his body,” Dr. Prentiss and Dr. Smith catheterized him without obtaining his consent. Plaintiff further alleged that Dr. Prentiss and Dr. Smith injured his urethra while attempting to insert the catheter, thereby causing him to seek further medical treatment to repair damage to his urinary tract. Plaintiff asserted that defendant was vicariously liable for the medical battery of “its agents and apparent agents,” Dr. Prentiss and Dr. Smith, in that defendant “[p]ermitted [the physicians] to perform medical procedures on [him] which [he] expressly refused to consent.”

Apparent Authority

For a hospital to be vicariously liable for negligent medical treatment rendered in the hospital by an independent-contractor physician under the doctrine of apparent authority, the plaintiff must establish that: (1) the hospital, or its agent, acted in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the individual who was alleged to be negligent was an employee or agent of the hospital; (2) where the acts of the agent create the appearance of authority, the plaintiff must also prove that the hospital had knowledge of and acquiesced in them; and (3) the plaintiff acted in reliance upon the conduct of the hospital or its agent, consistent with ordinary care and prudence.

The Appellate Court of Illinois Second District stated in its Order dated March 21, 2022: “In short, it is plaintiff’s burden to show a factual basis establishing defendant acted in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that it held out Dr. Prentiss and Dr. Smith as its agents. Construing the evidence strictly against defendant and liberally in favor of plaintiff, we conclude that nothing in the record forms such a basis or reasonable inference as to either physician. Accordingly, plaintiff failed to satisfy the “holding out” elements. Since plaintiff failed to establish the “holding out” elements we need not consider the issue of justifiable reliance.”

Source Dix v. Rush-Copley Medical Center, Inc., 2022 IL App (2d) 210411-U.

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