T.L. v. City Ambulance of Eureka, Inc.Annotate this Case
While T.L. was being transported by ambulance from a crisis stabilization unit to an inpatient psychiatric facility, she suddenly unbuckled the belts strapping her to the semi-reclined gurney and stepped out of the back of the moving ambulance, sustaining serious injuries. At the stabilization unit, she had been placed on a “section 5585” 72-hour mental health hold. (Welf. & Inst. Code 5585) However, she was calm and cooperative while at the unit, was never diagnosed as being a danger to herself, and was transported by ambulance to and from a local hospital for medical clearance, without incident. Her attending psychiatrist determined she was stable for transport to the in-patient facility.
The trial court rejected T.L.'s suit on summary judgment, finding that the defendants owed no duty to prevent her from engaging in impulsive, reckless, irrational, and self-harming conduct. The court of appeal reversed. The defendants, like any other provider of medical services or medical support services, owe a general duty of care to those to whom they provide such services. While the professional standard of care does not, as a matter of law, require the use of restraints during the transport of any patient subject to a 5585 hold, the court should address T.L.’s claims that the gurney should have had shoulder harnesses and that the rear door of the ambulance should have been locked.