In Choate ex rel. Clayton v. Vanderbilt Univ., No. M2014-00630-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2016), the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a property owner when a patient was injured while attempting to get on a scale at a dialysis clinic.
Plaintiff was the decedent patient’s former spouse and brought the action on behalf of the patient’s minor child. Patient was suffering from end-stage renal disease and receiving dialysis treatments three times each week. His treatments were at the Vanderbilt Dialysis Clinic, but although Vanderbilt University owned the building and property, the clinic was operated by Bio-Medical Applications of Tennessee, Inc. Patient had been going to this clinic for several years.
When patient arrived on the day at issue, he arrived in a wheelchair and a Bio-Medical employee assisted him with his admission. Patients are weighed before dialysis can begin, but patient asked to go to the restroom first. A Bio-Medical employee wheeled patient to the restroom and told him to use the call string inside to let her know when he was finished. After not hearing from the patient for ten minutes, the employee checked on the patient and again reiterated that he should use the call string when finished. When the patient finished using the restroom, he left the area and asked the facility secretary to show him into the treatment area. She took him to an isolation room and instructed him to wait there for his patient care technician to come get him. Patient disregarded these instructions and left the room alone.