Woman loses finger in wheelchair, sues hospital

David Yates May 29, 2007, 8:00am

Inexplicably, Sarah Johnson sliced off the tip of her right index finger while helping her mother into a wheelchair. She is suing the Memorial Hermann Hospital System for maliciously failing to warn her that such a dangerous scenario existed.

She filed her personal injury lawsuit against the Memorial Hermann with the Jefferson County District Court on May 25. Judge Bob Wortham, 58th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

According to Johnson's original petition, on Dec. 18, 2006, she was visiting her mother at the Beaumont Memorial Hermann Hospital, "when she was helping her mother into a wheelchair and the top portion of her right index finger was cut off."

The suit does not state how exactly Johnson managed to injure her self, only that her "bodily injuries occurred as a direct result of faulty equipment." However, the suit also does not state how the wheelchair was defective, only that the hospital staff should have been on hand to help her move her mother.

"The defendant was negligent in not providing sufficient staff to assist in patient care...there should have been sufficient staff available to aid plaintiff's mother in getting into the wheelchair," the suit said, adding that the hospital's employees "knowingly caused an unsafe and hazardous situation."

The suit goes on to allege that the hospital failed to provide an ordinary standard of care by not giving adequate and understandable warnings to Johnson of any danger that existed, failing to properly supervise and instruct its employees and failing to to "offer alternative assistance to employees and or customers when potentially dangerous or hazardous situations exist or occur."

"Defendant Memorial Hermann Hospital System, had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved in the above described acts or omissions, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to rights, safety, or welfare of Johnson and others," the suit said. "Therefore, for such malice on behalf of defendant, plaintiff sues for exemplary damages in an amount to be determined at trial."

She is suing for past and future medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of earning capacity and "fear of future disease or condition," the suit said.

Johnson is represented by attorney Timothy Sawyer of the Lindsay & Morgan law firm.

Case No. A179-377

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