Summary of Bradshaw v. Daniel (1993) Pg. 525, 854 S.W.2d 865 (Tenn. 1993)
Parties: Appellee – Plaintiff – Bradshaw
Appellant – Defendant – Daniel
Court: Supreme Court of Tennessee, 1993
Facts: Elmer Johns was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Dr. Daniels treated him, and Johns later died. Dr. Daniels never warned Johns’s wife, Genevieve of the risk of catching the disease. Later on Genevieve caught the disease and suffered the same fate as her husband. Bradshaw, the decedents’ son, filed suit against Dr. Daniels for negligence for failure to warn.
Procedural Posture: TC – denied Dr. Daniel’s motion for summary judgment and granted an interlocutory appeal on the issue of the physician’s legal duty. Jury ruled in Bradshaw’s favor and Dr. Daniels appealed on the grounds he owed no duty.
MC – reversed TC’s decision and granted Dr. Daniel’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the facts were insufficient to show that the risk to the non-patient of contracting the disease imposed a duty on the doctor to warn.
Issue: Does a health care professional owe a duty to warn a 3rd party of a potential risk of acquiring a disease by his current patient?
Judgment: Reversed MC’s decision and remanded back to TC for further proceedings.
Holding: Held that the existence of a physician-patient relationship is sufficient to impose upon a physician an affirmative duty to warn identifiable third persons in the patient’s immediate family against foreseeable risks emanating from a patient’s illness. Dr. Daniel had a duty to warn Genevieve Johns of the risks of contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Relevant Rule: The existence of a physician-patient relationship is sufficient to impose upon a physician an affirmative duty to warn identifiable third persons in the patient’s immediate family against foreseeable risks emanating from a patient’s illness.