The Plaintiff was a nursing assistant who was arrested after an elderly patient at a nursing facility falsely accused him of abuse. By way of background, after the accusation was made, the patient underwent x-rays at the hospital. Unfortunately, the radiologist at the hospital misinterpreted the patient’s x-rays as showing newly fractured ribs, when in fact they revealed old, healed fractures.
The hospital’s protocol required that the doctor report his findings to the police. The nursing assistant, who sued the hospital, was arrested based upon the report of the newly fractured ribs which at the time seemed to confirm that the elderly patient was in fact abused.
The falsely accused nursing assistant was arrested. The nursing assistant sued the hospital and the doctor alleging a breach of duty of care to provide true and accurate information and diagnosis to the police.
The Court held though that the social utility in physician’s reporting elder abuse outweighs the foreseeable harm of an erroneous report. Accordingly, the Court found that the hospital and the doctor did not owe a duty of care to the nurse’s assistant with regards to reporting the abuse to the police.