Posted On: April 23, 2009 by Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

Estate Can Sue Hospital that Discharged Killer

On April 6, 2009, a federal appeals court ruled that a Michigan hospital can be sued for medical malpractice for releasing a man who killed his estranged wife with an ax 10 days later.

According to this Associated Press article that appeared on, this decision reinstates a lawsuit filed by the estate of Marie Moses Irons against Providence Hospital.

The 3-judge panel cited a federal law that requires hospitals to stabilize patients if an emergency condition exists and said that it applies to “any individual” who suffers personal harm.

When a patient has been treated with substandard care by a doctor or healthcare provider and has suffered an injury or disability as a result, the patient has been the victim of medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, prescription drug errors, birth injuries, failure to treat diseases, delay in treatment, and negligence are just a few examples of medical malpractice. People of all ages are at risk for medical malpractice, including children, adults, and the elderly.

Marie Moses Irons brought her husband, Christopher Howard, into the Emergency Room at Providence Hospital in December 2002 because he was physically ill, making threats, and showing signs of mental illness.

Although a doctor recommended that Howard be transferred to a unit for the mentally ill, the transfer never occurred. Howard eventually was discharged and 10 days after he was released, he murdered Irons while she slept at her home. Howard is now serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.

Providence Hospital fought the lawsuit, claiming that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor law did not apply because Howard was screened and did not have an emergency condition.

A U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the hospital in 2007, but a decision the appeals court overturned. The three-judge panel said some issues in the case should be settled by a jury.

Medical malpractice is a distressing situation, and the top Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Cherry, Fieger, and Marciano, LLP, will make the process as simple as possible for you.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, please contact Cherry, Fieger, and Marciano, LLP today for a free consultation with a Philadelphia PA medical malpractice attorney.