Medical Malpractice Act vs. Tort Law

In 2006, a Virginia high court held that a brutal assault on a disabled patient is governed by tort law and not by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act. In this assignment, you will analyze this case and identify the scope of medical malpractice and tort law.

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The Case

Alcoy was 79 years old when she suffered a stroke that left her physically helpless and mentally damaged. She was moved to a nursing home. Four days later, she was brutally assaulted sexually; the assailant was never identified. Alcoy died several months later. Her estate administrator sued the nursing home for negligence and assault. The nursing home responded that the case was governed by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act, and that Act controlled the extent of the nursing home’s liability. The district court held in favor of the nursing home; the administrator appealed. Virginia high court held that the case is governed by tort law and not by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act (Alcoy v. Valley Nursing Homes, 2006).

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