Hicks v. United States

368 F.2d 626 (4th Cir.1966)


Hicks (P) sued for the estate of Carol Greitens. Greitens died of an obstruction in her small intestine because it was misdiagnosed by Navy doctor who sent her home indicating she had a “bug.” She had been examined by the Navy Doctor after she sought emergency treatment at the dispensary. A few hours later, she fell unconscious and was rushed back to the dispensary but was declared dead from a high obstruction in her intestines. P sued the doctor for negligence; a failure to meet the requisite standard of care and skill required of doctors in Virginia. Two doctors, as expert witnesses, testified that the Navy doctor did not follow the proper procedure for diagnosing Greitens’ symptoms. The doctor should have inquired about diarrhea and made a rectal exam based on the symptoms. The proper steps would have saved her life. P claimed that the doctor did not exercise “ordinary care' and should be held liable for negligently causing Greitens' death. The complaint was dismissed for insufficient evidence. The District Court placed great emphasis on the fact that the symptoms of high obstruction and gastroenteritis are quite similar and that there was merely an error in judgment and not negligent. P appealed. D cited Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a) and denied jurisdictional review.