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Tort; patient injured in hospital. Before Judge Blackshear. Hall City Court. May 3, 1957.
A hospital authority, created under Chapter 99-15 of the Georgia Code, is subject to a suit for damages resulting from a personal injury it negligently inflicts upon one of its patients.
Mrs. Phee Phee Shubert filed an action for personal injuries against the Hospital Authority of Hall County, Georgia. The original plaintiff having died the suit proceeded in the name of Robert R. Shubert as temporary administrator.
The petition alleged in substance: that the defendant injured and damaged the plaintiff in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars; that the defendant operates and has operated, for several years immediately past, a hospital on East Spring Street in Gainesville; that the defendant maintains facilities for doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses and others to treat and care for persons needing the attention and care usually furnished persons who are sick and ill or in need of surgery for which use of facilities, the hospital makes the charge against the persons using the same; that on or about October 26, 1956, the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital by the defendant and was assigned to a room by its agents, servants and employees for which use and service monetary charges were made by the defendant and paid by and on behalf of the plaintiff; that the defendant maintains an X-ray room in the hospital; that the plaintiff was X-rayed in the room for which monetary charges were made by the defendant and paid by and on behalf of the plaintiff; that the plaintiff is a woman 83 years old, and when she was returned to her room after being X-rayed, by defendant's servants, agents and employees, she was in a semi-conscious condition, unaware of where she was, erratic and unable to care for herself, which fact was well known to the defendant, its agents, and servants and employees; that immediately before entering the hospital the plaintiff was transported from Clermont, Georgia, to the hospital a distance of approximately twenty (20) miles; that two employees, whose names are unknown to the plaintiff carried her from the room to the X-ray room and returned her from the X-ray room to her room assigned to her and placed her on the bed in the room; that at the time the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital she was weak and exhausted mentally and physically from her physical condition and the exertion of the trip from her home in Clermont to the hospital, which fact was well known by defendant's nurses, servants, and employees, whose names are unknown to the plaintiff, but well known to the defendant that the visit to the X-ray room further exhausted and weakened the plaintiff; that the defendant and its employees were well aware, or should have been in the exercise of ordinary care, of the plaintiff's weakened physical and mental condition; that when she was placed in bed after the trip to the X-ray room the side rails on the bed, for which the bed was equipped, were not put in place, but left off of the bed; that she was left alone in the room; that in her said mental and physical condition she fell from the bed with great force, from which she was severely injured, fracturing her left hip; that her hip has not been set and she is still in bed unable to move herself and will never be able to move; that plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer excruciating mental and physical pain; that she sues for pain and suffering, past, present, and future and permanent injuries; that her injuries and damages were directly and proxi-
mately caused by the negligence of the defendant at the time and place as follows: (a) in not having an attendant with the plaintiff; (b) in not placing guard rails on her bed; (c) in leaving her in a semi-conscious condition without anyone present to prevent her from falling from the bed; (d) in not placing the guard rails in place, so as to prevent plaintiff in her semi-conscious condition from falling from the bed; (e) in permitting plaintiff to fall from the bed.
The defendant filed a general demurrer to the petition which was overruled. It is to this ruling the defendant excepts.
1. Counsel for the defendant insists that the Hospital Authority of Hall County is a corporation authorized and organized under the Hospital Authority Act provided in Code (Ann.) Ch. 99-15, and is exercising a public governmental function, thereby being immune to suit for a personal injury negligently inflicted upon one of its patients.
Code (Ann.) 99-1505 provides: "Every authority shall be deemed to exercise public and essential governmental functions and shall have all of the powers necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this Chapter, including, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the power: To sue and be sued; . . ."
In Knowles v. Housing Authority of City of Columbus, 212 Ga. 729, 733 (95 S. E. 2d 659) the Supreme Court held: "As previously pointed out, the General Assembly of this State has by express terms given every housing authority created by it the unlimited and unqualified right to 'sue and be sued.' " Under the ruling in the Knowles case, supra, this court is constrained to hold that the phrase "to sue and be sued" in Code (Ann.) 99-1505 subjects the defendant corporation to suits for damages for personal injuries it negligently inflicts on one of its patients.
We are not unmindful of the holding in Hall v. Hospital Authority of Floyd County, 93 Ga. App. 319 (91 S. E. 2d 530) that a hospital authority created under Code (Ann.) Ch. 99-15 was not liable in tort for the negligent injury of one of its patients. But this ruling must yield to the Supreme Court decision, construing the exact phrase here involved in a similar Code section, which in principle must control this case.
2. The facts alleged in the petition are sufficient to set forth a cause of action and the trial judge did not err in overruling the general demurrer to the petition. Executive Committee of the Baptist Convention v. Ferguson, 95 Ga. App. 393 (98 S. E. 2d 50).
Judgment affirmed. Felton, C. J., and Nichols, J. concur.
Telford, Wayne & Smith, Tifton S. Greer, contra.
William P. Whelchel, for plaintiffs in error.
DECIDED JULY 11, 1957.
Saturday May 23 01:50 EDT

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