On September 11, 2012, the Court of Appeals of the State of Mississippi (“Appeals Court”) affirmed a judge’s verdict in the amount of $390,000 in favor of James Taylor, who was 57-years-old when he suffered a stroke that a physician in a hospital emergency room failed to timely and appropriately diagnose and treat, resulting in what the judge determined to be permanent impairment and partial loss of use of full body function.
The judge found Mr. Taylor’s resulting damages included permanent loss of wage-earning capacity; past, present, and future medical expenses and costs of rehabilitation; past, present, and future pain and suffering, mental and emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life; past, present, and future out-of-pocket expenses related to his medical care and hiring of outside individuals to perform activities and household chores that he can no longer perform himself due to his injuries; and, damage to his marital relationship.
The Underlying Facts
Before his stroke, Mr. Taylor worked as a forklift operator and material handler. On Saturday, August 19, 2006, Mr. Taylor worked until the end of his shift and, feeling ill, went home to bed. When he awoke Sunday morning, he felt weak and dizzy. Mrs. Taylor called her son to drive Mr. Taylor to the hospital emergency room. Upon arrival at the emergency room at 11:15 a.m., Mr. Taylor was complaining of dizziness, lightheadedness, and right-sided weakness. The emergency room physician took Mr. Taylor’s medical history, performed a physical examination, and ordered an EKG and a CT scan without contrast. After performing the tests, the physician rendered a differential diagnoses of Mr. Taylor’s condition, stating the following three alternative diagnoses potentially causing his symptoms: “vertigo, TIA versus early CVA.” The physician prescribed Antivert and Plavix. Mr. Taylor was discharged at 1:45 p.m., less than two hours after he arrived at the hospital, with instructions to follow up with his primary physician in two to three days.
Mr. Taylor’s wife drove him from the hospital to a local pharmacy to fill his prescriptions, which he took before going home. At home, Mr. Taylor suffered a progression of his symptoms over the course of several hours, leading to slurred speech and inability to walk independently. Mrs. Taylor dove him to another hospital where he was unable to walk. The physicians at the second hospital conducted a full carotid work-up, diagnosed a stroke, and admitted Mr. Taylor into the hospital for supportive care, treatment, and therapy. Mr. Taylor received speech therapy and physical therapy while in the hospital. He was discharged on August 24, 2006 and continued to receive rehabilitative therapy on an outpatient basis. However, Mr. Taylor continued to suffer permanent debilitating conditions and was unable to return to work.
The Medical Malpractice Allegations
Mr. Taylor and his wife (“the Taylors”) alleged in their medical malpractice complaint that the first hospital’s physicians and staff negligently breached the applicable standard of medical care in rendering treatment to Mr. Taylor upon his presentation to the emergency room with stroke symptoms. The Taylors claimed that the negligent medical care proximately caused Mr. Taylor to suffer damages and permanent debilitating conditions resulting from a massive stroke suffered after his discharge from the first hospital. They further alleged in their medical malpractice complaint that had Mr. Taylor been properly diagnosed and treated, then he would not have suffered his current debilitation and partial paralysis in his right hand, right arm, right leg, and right foot.
The Taylors’ medical malpractice case was tried before a judge rather than a jury because the hospital was a political subdivision of the State of Mississippi and therefore a jury trial was not available under the Mississippi Torts Claim Act (MTCA) (Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-46-13(1) (Rev. 2002)). The judge specifically found that the first emergency room physician breached the applicable standard of care incumbent upon him by failing to admit Mr. Taylor to the hospital, failing to provide him with supportive care treatment, and failing to monitor him for a progressive worsening of his symptoms.
The Appeals Court affirmed the judge’s verdict.
If you or a family member were injured due to medical malpractice in Mississippi or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly consult with a Mississippi medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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