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REDDING v. UNITED STATES

August 8, 1961

SILAS REDDING, JR., AND GEORGIA J. REDDING, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, Chief Judge.

Pleadings

On May 13, 1960, the plaintiffs filed their complaint against the defendant in which the plaintiff, Georgia J. Redding, seeks judgment against the defendant in the sum of $340,000 and the plaintiff, Silas Redding, Jr., seeks judgment against the defendant in the sum of $170,000. The suit was commenced under the Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b), 2401(b) and 2674.

Jurisdiction is granted by 28 U.S.C. § 1346 (1960 Supp.).

This opinion, containing the findings of fact and conclusions of law, is filed in lieu of formal findings of fact and conclusions of law, separately stated. Rule 52(a), Fed.R.Civ.P., 28 U.S.C.

The plaintiffs, husband and wife, are citizens of the State of Arkansas, but on dates material herein were residing in Lawton, Oklahoma.

On and prior to November 3, 1959, the plaintiff, Silas Redding, Jr., was serving as enlisted personnel with the rank of Sergeant in the United States Army stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His wife, the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding, was and is a dependent and entitled to receive medical care in the medical facilities of the United States Army.

In numbered paragraphs V and VI of the complaint the plaintiffs alleged:

"V.

    "That on or about November 3, 1959, the plaintiff
  Georgia J. Redding was admitted to the United States
  Army Hospital at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for the purpose
  of a vaginal hysterectomy, the same being scheduled
  for November 4, 1959, and, on the morning of November
  4, 1959, she was taken to surgery at said hospital
  and a vaginal hysterectomy, anterior and posterior
  repair was performed and during the course of the
  operation she was transfused 1,000 cc's of B-positive
  blood by the physicians and attendants, who were
  officers, or employees of the United States of
  America, and were acting in the scope of their
  office, or employment, and they impliedly agreed to
  exercise and use a reasonable degree in the care and
  treatment of the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding.

"VI.

    "That the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding had blood
  type O-positive at the time of said operation and
  this condition should have been discovered and known
  by said officers and employees prior to the
  administering of the B-positive blood, as above
  outlined, which blood was administered in the
  operating room while the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding
  was under anaesthesia, and such act of administering
  the incorrect type of blood was an act of negligence
  and carelessness."

In paragraph numbered VII the plaintiffs alleged:

"VII.

    "That as a proximate result of the negligent and
  careless act of administering the B-positive blood to
  the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding, instead of the
  O-positive, the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding has
  suffered * * * [It does not seem necessary to set
  forth a detailed description of the injuries
  allegedly suffered by the plaintiff, Mrs.
  Redding.] * * * which said careless and negligent act
  and such conditions created, or caused thereby, have
  caused the plaintiff Georgia J. Redding to suffer
  permanent damage and injury to her body, for all of
  which she should be compensated in the sum of
  $340,000; and, as a proximate result of said
  carelessness and negligence, the plaintiff Silas
  Redding, Jr., has been caused to suffer mental
  anguish and will be caused to suffer mental anguish
  in the future; has been caused to expend sums of
  money for the care and maintenance of his wife, and
  will be caused to expend sums of money for the care
  and maintenance of his wife in the future * * * has
  been caused to expend sums of money for the care of
  his and his wife's children, whose ages are 14, 5, 4,
  3 and 1 years, which care would have been given by
  the mother of said children, the plaintiff Georgia J.
  Redding had she not been injured by said careless and
  negligent acts; and has caused him to lose the
  companionship, society and consortium of his wife,
  for which he should be compensated in the sum of
  $170,000."

On July 18, 1960, the defendant filed its answer in which the defendant admitted that the cause of action arises under the Federal Tort Claims Act and that jurisdiction is granted by Title 28, U.S.C. § 1346(b), as amended.

Further answering, the defendant, in numbered paragraph 4 of its answer, stated:

    "It admits that Georgia J. Redding was admitted to
  the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for
  the purpose of a vaginal hysterectomy as alleged in
  Paragraph 5, and that during the course of the
  operation she was transfused 1,000 cc of `Group B, Rh
  positive' blood by the surgeon, who was an officer of
  the Medical Corps, United States Army, but it denies
  all other allegations of said Paragraph 5."

The defendant also admitted that plaintiff, Siles Redding at all times material was a Sergeant in the United States Army, and that his wife, plaintiff Georgia J. Redding, was a dependent and entitled to receive medical care at the medical facilities of the United States Army, but denied the other allegations in the complaint.

The case was tried to the court on June 26 and 27, 1961. At the conclusion of the trial, the court requested the parties to submit memorandum briefs in support of their respective contentions together with a summary of the facts which they contend are established by the testimony. The briefs and summary of facts have been received and considered, along with the pleadings, all the testimony and the exhibits. The case is now ready for final disposition.

Facts

On November 3, 1959, the plaintiff, Sergeant Redding, had been stationed at Fort Sill, near Lawton, Oklahoma, for several months.

On March 12, 1959, the plaintiff, Georgia J. Redding, was pregnant and was receiving prenatal treatment and care from Captain Gerald M. Platock, a member of the Medical Corps of the United States Army, stationed at Fort Sill and assigned to the Station Hospital, Obstetrics and Gynecology Department. Prior to that pregnancy, Mrs. Redding had given birth to six children and had had two miscarriages. During this treatment and care, Captain Platock, on March 11, 1959, caused her blood to be typed, and the report filed March 12, 1959, showed her blood to be Group O, Rh-positive.

In June 1959 the baby was born without any complications. Following her recovery from the birth of the child, Captain Platock scheduled a vaginal hysterectomy for November 4, 1959. In his narrative summary attached to his deposition, he stated:

    "Post-partum check revealed a marked
  cysto-rectocele and a uterine prolapse. Vaginal
  hysterectomy was contemplated and scheduled for the
  4th of November 59. She has been having trouble with
  stress, urge incontinence and a heaviness in the
  pelvis over the past six years which gradually seemed
  to become worse. When admitted to the hospital on
  November 3 she was seen and examined. Blood pressure
  was 132/80 pulse 72 temperature 98 weight 122 1/2.
    "Physical examination revealed a well-developed
  well-nourished white female whose only positive
  findings other than the Gyn findings previously noted
  was a grade 2 systolic murmur at the apex. She had a
  regular sinus rhythm and PMI was at the
  mid-clavicular line. The murmur did not radiate and
  she had no history of shortness of breath,
  palpitation, rheumatic fever or any other cardiac
  difficulties. Past history was essentially negative
  except that she had an appendectomy at the age 14.
  She was taken to surgery on the morning of November 4
  where a vaginal hysterectomy, anterior and posterior
  repair was performed. She had average blood loss and
  was transfused 1000 cc's of B-positive blood."

When she was admitted to the hospital on November 3, Captain Platock requested that her blood be typed and three bottles, each containing 500 cc's of blood, be ready for use during the operation the next morning, November 4, 1959. Private Robert Chagnot drew the required amount of blood from the patient, Mrs. Redding, and it was typed and crossmatched by Sp-4 Emmitt E. Brown on the same date, November 3, 1959. At that time the Chief of the Laboratory Service, Captain Rex. D. Couch, was not present. The bottles containing the blood which were transferred from the laboratory to the operating room were each labeled showing the contents to be type B-positive. During the operation Captain Platock and his assistant transfused 1000 cc's from bottles Nos. 241 and 281.

Captain Platock in his summary further stated:

    "Her condition at the closing of the operation was
  satisfactory. Her blood pressure and pulse remained
  stable throughout the entire procedure and there
  seemed to be no cause for alarm regarding her
  condition. The urine at the closing of the procedure
  was checked from the Foley catheter and found to be
  clear. At 5 PM on the day of surgery it was noted
  that the urinary output was extremely minimal and
  amounting to approximately 50 cc's and this being
  very dark in color. The Foley was irrigated but
  normal output was

  still not obtained so the Foley was removed and
  another catheter was reinserted. Her blood pressure
  and her pulse was still stable. At 1 AM on the
  morning of 5 November the blood pressure dropped to
  90/70, the pulse was 128 and respiration 16. The
  patient appeared jaundiced and a negligible amount of
  urine was obtained since previously being checked
  about 5 PM on the 4 of November. It seemed quite
  obvious at this time that the patient had had a
  transfusion reaction and the urine was sent to the
  laboratory for bilirubin analysis. She was retyped
  and crossed and it was found that the patient typed
  O-positive.
    "Previously when she was admitted to the hospital
  she was typed as B-positive as previously mentioned.
  She was given 1000 cc's of B-positive blood while in
  the operating room under anesthesia. Her urinary
  output at this time still remained negligible.
  Medical consultation has been sought and our plan is
  to evacuate the patient to Brooke for the possibility
  of placing her on artificial kidney. Her blood
  pressure has continued to drop and is now 70/50 with
  a pulse of 132. She is markedly jaundiced. Her
  condition at this time is poor.

"Prognosis is nil."

The operation had been started at approximately 9 a.m., November 4, and concluded at noon.

Captain Rex D. Couch, the Chief of the Laboratory Service, was called by Captain Platock at approximately 2 a.m., November 5, when her condition became alarming.

In the report to his Commanding Officer, dated November 10, 1959, Captain Couch, after stating that Sp-4 Emmitt E. Brown had on Tuesday, November 3, 1959, typed and cross-matched the patient's blood as Group B, Rh-positive, and that all three bottles which had been taken from the blood bank refrigerator were determined by Sp-4 Emmitt E. Brown to be compatible with the blood of the patient, further stated:

    "Almost immediately after this call, I received a
  call from Pfc John Laverty, the Laboratory CQ, who
  stated that he could not verify with certainty that
  the patient's blood was Group B, Rh positive.
    "I then went to the Laboratory, where Pfc Laverty
  and I rechecked the blood group and Rh type of the
  patient. On testing the specimen a number of times we
  felt that the patient was either Group O, Rh positive
  or a very weak Group B, Rh positive. I then asked Pfc
  Laverty to call Sp-4 Brown to come to the Laboratory.
  When Brown arrived at the Laboratory, he typed the
  patient's blood a number of times and suspected that
  it was Group O, Rh positive. He then typed and
  back-typed (using the patient's serum with cells of
  known type) the blood and concluded that the
  patient's blood type was Group O, Rh positive, a
  conclusion in which I concurred.
    "I then called the nurse in charge of Ward 3, and
  asked her to send the bottle #282 back to the
  laboratory. On re-crossmatching all three units of
  blood in question, it was found that Numbers 241 and
  281 were incompatible, but that No. 282 still
  appeared to be compatible.
    "At about 1030 hours on 5 November 1959 a request
  for 1000 ml of whole blood was received for Mrs.
  Redding. Units No. 287 and 288 (both Group O, Rh
  positive) were crossmatched with the patient's blood
  and the major crossmatch with both units was
  compatible."

There was no testimony that specimens from another patient were mistaken for those of Mrs. Redding.

Pfc. John J. Laverty, the technician who was on duty during the night of November 4 and early morning of November 5, when Mrs. Redding became critically ill, immediately typed and cross-matched her blood using the standard procedure and found the blood to be Group O, Rh-positive.

Prior to entering the Army, Pfc. Laverty had graduated from college with a chemistry major, and in addition, before being assigned as a technician, had received training as a medic and laboratory technician in the Army School at Fort Sam Houston.

Dr. Platock, in answer to an interrogatory as to whether he was

personally acquainted with the fact that Mrs. Redding was given the wrong type of blood, stated:

    "She was O positive and was given B positive
  blood."

All of the witnesses testified that she was given Group B, Rh-positive, when her blood group was and is Group O, Rh-positive. All of the witnesses further agreed that the type or group of blood of a person does not change.

When it was definitely ascertained that Mrs. Redding had been given Group B, Rh-positive, instead of Group O, Rh-positive, Captain Platock called Dr. Jack N. Freyhof of the Brooke General Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and received instructions from Dr. Freyhof as to the treatment of the patient until she could be transferred to Brooke General Hospital. Accordingly, the treatment recommended by Dr. Freyhof was administered, and on November 6 she was transferred by plane to the Brooke General Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The report of Captain Platock which accompanied her to Brooke, and upon which she was admitted, states under the word "Diagnosis":

    "Therapeutic misadventure, transfusion with
  incompatible blood with resulting renal failure.
  (Vaginal hysterectomy, performed this hospital 4 Nov.
  59."

Under the phrase "Operations and Special Therapeutic Procedures" ...


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