Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff’s decedent waived any malpractice action when he signed a release before his admission to a non-profit hospital.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The release of a non-profit hospital to waive any malpractice liability is not enforceable.
Issue. Is the release of a non-profit hospital to waive any malpractice liability enforceable?
Held. (Tobriner, J.)Â No.Â The release of a non-profit hospital to waive any malpractice liability is not enforceable.Â Under Civil Code Â§ 1668, if “the public interest” is involved, a contract claiming to excuse a party from his own negligence has no standing.Â Only if a service performed by the party seeking pardon is of great public importance, which may be a practical necessity to some, will the contract involve public interest.Â A contract for hospital services is certainly covered within this definition, although it is argued in this case that the section should not apply to a nonprofit charitable hospital.Â However, in this case, charitable immunity has already been abolished by this court, and therefore, a charity may be liable to the extent the charity is negligent.
Discussion. In general, courts have been rather hostile to efforts by health care providers to limit their malpractice liability.Â Rarely are general releases honored and arbitration provisions have been only somewhat successful.Â Liability limitations that do exist, do so by virtue of action by the legislature.