In its decision filed on September 3, 2015, the Supreme Court of Mississippi (“Mississippi Supreme Court”) upheld the trial court’s granting judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) in favor of one of the medical malpractice defendants following a mistrial after the Mississippi medical malpractice jury was unable to render a verdict because of a six-to six split.
The Underlying Facts
The father of a two-year-old boy brought his son to a community hospital emergency room because he had been vomiting, complaining of pain, and he was crying. The defendant emergency room physician, who was aware of the child’s history of a previous subarachnoid hemorrhage suffered as a result of a traffic accident, was told that the boy had vomited and had abdominal pain. The physician did not note that the child had any neurological symptoms but decided to have the child remain in the emergency room overnight for observation (the physician did not have admitting privileges at the hospital).
The child’s parents requested that the emergency room physician consult with a pediatrician (the other medical malpractice physician defendant), which he did at about 2:10 a.m. Both physicians thereafter diagnosed the child with gastroenteritis (although the child did not have diarrhea) and dehydration (the emergency room physician also considered possible new onset diabetes as part of the differential diagnosis).
The child was admitted at 2:30 a.m. to a regular floor in the hospital. At 7:35 a.m., he was found nonresponsive and twitching, with a temperature of 103 degrees. The defendant pediatrician was paged and she arrived at the hospital at approximately 7:54 a.m. When the defendant pediatrician arrived at the hospital, she observed that the child’s temperature was 103.1, he was tachycardic, and his blood pressure was almost undetectable, and a code blue was called at approximately 8:06 a.m. The defendant pediatrician intubated the child and the child was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The defendant pediatrician believed that the child suffered from sepsis due to a ruptured appendix and consulted with a surgeon who performed an exploratory laparotomy during which he removed the child’s appendix even though there was nothing wrong with it. The defendant pediatrician then considered that the child may have meningitis. Before ordering a spinal tap to test for meningitis, the defendant pediatrician ordered a CT scan of the child’s head at about 11:35 a.m., to make sure he did not have increased intracranial pressure. The defendant pediatrician obtained the results from the CT scan at about 2:45 p.m., which showed a subarachnoid bleed.
The defendant pediatrician began the process of transferring the child to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). The child was transferred to UMMC at 4:00 p.m. and arrived at about 7:40 p.m. The medical staff at UMMC determined that the CT scan of the child’s head showed blood in the third and fourth ventricle as well as additional density between the interior lobe suggestive of an aneurysm. The child died at 11:08 a.m. the next morning.
The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of the defendant pediatrician’s Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV) because the plaintiff’s expert failed to articulate the standard of care for a minimally competent pediatrician (the plaintiff’s expert failed to develop evidence that a violation of the standard of care in the setting in which she practiced was equivalent to that as applied to the defendant physician) but the Mississippi Supreme Court further held that the trial court improperly granted the defendant emergency room physician’s motion for JNOV because the plaintiff had offered sufficient evidence of the requisite elements of a medical negligence case against that defendant.
Source McIlwain v. Natchez Community Hospital, Inc., et al., Case No. 2013-CA-00572-SCT.
If you may be the victim of medical malpractice in Mississippi, you should promptly find a Mississippi malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.