AZ APP 1: MEDICAL BATTERY CLAIM DOES NOT REQUIRE INTENT TO HARM; NEW TRIAL REQUIRED AFTER STANDARD JURY CHARGE ON BATTERY GIVEN

The patient consented to a sacrococcygeal ligament injection. Sedation is not medically mandatory for this procedure, but the patient specified sedation when she gave consent. The injection was done without sedation.

The patient sued for medical battery and there was jury trial. The patient asked the court instruct the jury that they should find in her favor if the doctor acted in “willful disregard” of her request for sedation. The court rejected this and instead gave the standard battery instruction, which required the patient to prove that the doctor “intended to cause harm or offensive contact.’

The jury found in favor of the doctor and the patient appealed. The Court of Appeals, Division One, held that the trial court gave the wrong jury instruction. The appropriate standard for medical battery was “willful disregard of the conditional consent” and not “intent to harm”. Since there was no way of knowing why the jurors found in favor of the doctor – lack of any real harm or lack of intent to harm or both – a new trial will be required.

Carter v Pain Center (May 10, 2016)