while the patient was on brief weekend home visits with her family.
The Doctor testified and this Court finds as facts that at no time while Mrs. Schwartz was in his charge at Dix Pavillion was she ever chained to her bed or placed under similar strict supervision; that in the light of Mrs. Schwartz's illness, it was medically imperative that she be afforded as much responsibility as possible in hopes of rehabilitating her to the extent that she could exist once again outside the controlled environment of the hospital; and that the grant of ground privileges to this patient was a part of her continuing therapy.
11. Plaintiff's evidence demonstrates and this Court finds as facts that St. Elizabeths Hospital spent many hours attemping to locate this patient once she had disappeared. The patient was reported missing at the Dix Service sometime before 9:00 P.M., September 11, 1959. Hospital personnel searched the grounds at that time. At about 12:15 A.M., September 12, 1959, Sergeant McDaniel, of the St. Elizabeths Guard Force, met Mr. Ernst, brother of the deceased who had been informed that she was missing and who joined in the search. Special attention was paid to the wooded area behind the Geriatric Building where the patient's body was ultimately found. This search on September 12, 1959 took approximately two hours. On September 13, 1959, Mr. Earl Hitch, a member of the Hospital Guard Force, searched from 12:15 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. in the wooded area on the east side of the hospital grounds. Between September 14, and September 20, 1959, approximately ten and one-half hours were spent by various members of the Guard Force in searching for the patient on the hospital grounds.
12. Based on all of the facts, the Court is unable to find that the administrative steps taken by the hospital to locate the patient after her disappearance were unreasonable under the circumstances.
13. The evidence adduced by plaintiff demonstrates, and the Court finds as a fact pursuant to that evidence, that the course of treatment established for Erika M. Schwartz at St. Elizabeths Hospital during the period of her residence, dating from July of 1958 until September of 1959, involved a series of medical judgments, such as instituting a program of intensive individual psychotherapy, according the patient freedom of the grounds, allowing the patient to retain personal articles of clothing while she was unaccompanied on the grounds of the hospital, and the like. Plaintiff has been unable to show that these medical judgments, all of which were rendered by qualified staff psychiatrists in the performance of their duties at St. Elizabeths Hospital, were not rendered with the degree of skill and learning ordinarily possessed and exercised by psychiatrists in the District of Columbia area at that time. Indeed, plaintiff's claim of departure from accepted standards of medical practice is not supported by evidence on that issue delineating the alleged correct procedure. The Court further finds that far from plaintiff adducing any evidence of this nature, his own witness, Dr. Lanham, stated that in his opinion, granting this patient ground privileges in July of 1959 constituted good medical practice.
14. Plaintiff is unable to sustain his burden of proof of negligence on the part of defendant, its hospital or the hospital employees.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. The Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b).
2. All medical treatment accorded to the deceased patient, Erika M. Schwartz, during the period of her residence at St. Elizabeths Hospital was rendered by qualified medical personnel acting within the scope of their authority.
3. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff has been unable to establish a prima facie case of negligence or any wrongful act or omission on the part of defendant or its authorized representatives within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b).
4. The defendant United States of America is not an insurer for loss or damage in actions brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
5. Looking at the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff has been unable to establish that the medical care afforded Erika M. Schwartz at St. Elizabeths Hospital departed from the standard of skill and learning ordinarily possessed and exercised by members of the medical profession in the same line of practice in this locality.
6. Upon the facts and the law, plaintiff has shown no right to relief and defendant's motion to dismiss made pursuant to 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure should be granted.
7. The plaintiff should take nothing by his complaint and the United States of America is entitled to a judgment of dismissal on the merits.
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