Duty to Warn: Court Expands Liability to Third Parties for Not Warning Patient of Medication Hazards

February 17, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​The highest state court in New York concluded that healthcare providers have a legal duty to warn patients of known medication hazards and that breach of that duty could result in liability to a third party injured as a result of the provider's failure to warn the patient. The ruling permits a bus driver to seek monetary damages from various clinicians and a hospital for injuries he sustained in a collision caused by a patient who had been discharged from the hospital's emergency department (ED). Nineteen minutes after the patient left the ED, she drove her car across a double line and crashed into the bus.

The plaintiff claimed that the patient's ability to drive safely was impaired by various medications—an opioid narcotic and a benzodiazepine drug administered to her in the ED 90 minutes before she was discharged. Further, the plaintiff claimed that the hospital and its employed healthcare providers were negligent...

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