California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

515. Duty of Hospital to Provide Safe Environment

If [name of defendant hospital] knew or reasonably should have known it was likely that [name of patient] would harm [himself/herself/another], then [name of defendant hospital] had to use reasonable care to prevent such harm.

New September 2003

Directions for Use

Always read CACI No. 514, Duty of Hospital, in conjunction with this instruction.

Sources and Authority

  • “When a patient is admitted into the care of a hospital, the hospital must exercise reasonable care to protect that patient from harm.” (Walker v. Sonora Regional Medical Center (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 948, 959 [135 Cal.Rptr.3d 876].)
  • “[T]he duty extends to safeguarding the patient from dangers due to mental incapacity; and where the hospital has notice or knowledge of facts from which it might reasonably be concluded that a patient would be likely to harm himself or others unless preclusive measures were taken, then the hospital must use reasonable care in the circumstances to prevent such harm.” (Vistica v. Presbyterian Hospital & Medical Center, Inc. (1967) 67 Cal.2d 465, 469 [62 Cal.Rptr. 577, 432 P.2d 193].)
  • “If those charged with the care and treatment of a mentally disturbed patient know of facts from which they could reasonably conclude that the patient would be likely to harm himself in the absence of preclusive measures, then they must use reasonable care under the circumstances to prevent such harm.” (Meier v. Ross General Hospital (1968) 69 Cal.2d 420, 424 [71 Cal.Rptr. 903, 445 P.2d 519].)
  • “A rule more fitting to the facts of this case is expressed in Wood v. Samaritan Institution (1945) 26 Cal.2d 847 [161 P.2d 556], where the California Supreme Court held hospitals have a duty to be especially protective of their alcoholic patients.” (Emerick v. Raleigh Hills Hospital (1982) 133 Cal.App.3d 575, 581 [184 Cal.Rptr. 92].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 986–989

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) §§ 9.55–9.62

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 31, Liability of Physicians and Other Medical Practitioners, § 31.81 (Matthew Bender)

25 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 295, Hospitals, § 295.13 (Matthew Bender)