On each visit to the ED, the patient became impatient, then tried to leave the hospital. He was then escorted back to his room and became violent. On his second ED visit, he swung at a nurse and told her that if she touched him, he would “knock her block off.” The patient required restraints on each of his previous visits. He struggled in the physical restraints and was therefore given intravenous haloperidol and lorazepam for chemical sedation. By the morning, the patient was relatively calm and was discharged with his son-in-law.
On his fourth visit for drunkenness with an alcohol level of 398, the patient once again tried to stumble out of the emergency department. The security guard and physician escorted the patient to bed while he yelled loudly. He then pushed the security guard, was placed in physical restraints and was then given intravenous haloperidol and lorazepam. Roughly 15 minutes later, the patient stopped breathing. ACLS was performed and when the patient was attached to the monitor, he was found to be in torsades de pointes. He received cardioversion and a normal rhythm was restored. He was admitted to the intensive care unit.
Did the emergency physician’s actions meet the standard of care?
Should the emergency physician be liable for the patient’s injuries?