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09/18/87 Patricia A. Mooney, v. Graham Hospital

September 18, 1987





513 N.E.2d 633, 160 Ill. App. 3d 376, 112 Ill. Dec. 219 1987.IL.1379

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Fulton County; the Hon. Charles H. Wilhelm, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE WOMBACHER delivered the opinion of the court. STOUDER and HEIPLE, JJ., concur.


Plaintiff, Patricia Mooney, filed a complaint against defendant, Graham Hospital Association, seeking to recover damages for an injury she allegedly sustained while she was a patient in the hospital. The trial court denied defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint. The trial court then certified a question of law to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308 (107 Ill. 2d R. 308).

Plaintiff was admitted to Graham Hospital on January 31, 1984. On February 3, 1984, the plaintiff underwent surgery for a urological problem. After the surgery, plaintiff's physician wrote an order on her chart indicating that she could get up to go to the bathroom anytime she wished.

On February 9, 1984, at 3:10 a.m., nurse Margaret Gray noticed the call light from plaintiff's room was on. Nurse Grey entered the room, noticed that plaintiff's bed was empty, and then found Mrs. Mooney lying on the floor. The other patient in the room did not know that Mrs. Mooney had fallen until plaintiff shouted at her to turn the call light on. After another nurse arrived, they checked the plaintiff for injuries and blanket-lifted her back into bed.

In her deposition, Nurse Gray stated that she asked plaintiff if she was alright and Mrs. Mooney responded by saying that she had gotten weak and had just fallen to the floor. Mrs. Mooney then allegedly told Nurse Gray that she thought she could go to the bathroom by herself and that she had gotten up on the edge of the bed, but felt weak, and more or less slid onto the floor. Nurse Gray stated that plaintiff told the other nurses that she never made it to the bathroom, hence she wanted to use a bedpan and they obtained one for that purpose.

Mrs. Mooney in her written answers to interrogatories described her fall as follows:

"I am not sure of the exact time, it was early in the morning. I was going to the bathroom and on the way back, I slipped in something and fell on my hip and injuring the hip and could not get up due to severe pain. After a long period of time, I yelled for help and nobody came in, I woke up my roommate and she put on the light. Finally the nurses came in and they lifted and got a sheet to [put] me on and put me into bed.

Something was spilled on the floor. Urine or water was spilled on the floor. They failed to inspect the floor to keep the liquid off. They failed to come when I called for quite a long time."

Plaintiff's original complaint alleged that while she was an inpatient at defendant's hospital the defendant was negligent in: (1) allowing water or liquid to accumulate near plaintiff's bed, causing a dangerous condition; (2) failing to inspect the area and remove the dangerous conditions; and (3) and in failing to warn plaintiff of the accumulation of water or liquid. On January 24, 1986, the trial court granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint based on the failure to file a health professional affidavit or certificate required by section 2 -- 622 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (Ill. Rev Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2 -- 622). In dismissing the case, the trial court stated that "it would appear that evidence of the status of plaintiff insofar as the duty of defendant to plaintiff and insofar as the proximate cause of her injury in relation to the alleged specific acts of negligence convert this cause into the healing art malpractice class of cases at any point in time when plaintiff's status is related to defendant's alleged negligence in a way not common to any other business invitee, e.g., a delivery man."

Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint in which she changed her status from that of an inpatient to that of a person on the hospital premises confined to a bed. Plaintiff added an additional charge that defendant failed to post warning signs and also alleged that her action was also brought pursuant to the Premises Liability Act, which ...

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