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February 16, 1957


JAMA. 1957;163(7):556. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.82970420008015a

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Hospitals for Profit: Liability for Injury to Mental Patient.—  This was an action for damages for injuries to a mental patient allegedly due to the lack of supervision of the attendants of the defendant hospital. From a judgment sustaining a demurrer of the hospital, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Kansas. When admitted to the defendant hospital, the plaintiff had physical complaints but no noticeable mental disturbances or suicidal or homicidal tendencies. It was soon felt by his doctors, however, that he was a suicidal risk and that precautions against suicide were necessary. On April 4, 1951, an employee of the defendant hospital took the plaintiff out for a walk. During the course of this walk, he darted out into the middle of a street, was struck by a pickup truck, and received the injuries giving rise to this lawsuit.The attendant testified that the plaintiff had wanted to cross the street to see a doctor but that she had told him "We're not supposed to walk in front of the Clinic." He continued to walk until they got to the north end of the sidewalk, however, where, after standing for a moment, the attendant said "All right, now let's go back." They turned and started back, and the plaintiff—just like a flash—darted away and right in

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