In its decision filed on January 18, 2017, the Court of Appeals of Georgia (“Appellate Court”) held that the trial court had erroneously entered judgment in favor of the defendant nursing home and the defendant nursing home physician in a Georgia nursing home negligence lawsuit that alleged claims for wrongful death, pain and suffering, negligence per se, and punitive damages for a resident who developed severe pressure ulcers that allegedly led to her death. The Appellate Court held that the trial court had erroneously determined that the plaintiffs had failed to show proximate cause.
The Facts Alleged By The Plaintiff
The decedent was a resident of the defendant nursing home from September 2010 to December 2010, where she was provided medical care by the defendant nursing home physician. The nursing home stay was intended to be temporary because the resident’s primary caregiver, who was her daughter, was unavailable for a period of time.
The Georgia nursing home wrongful death lawsuit alleged that due to the defendant nursing home physician’s failure to provide adequate treatment to prevent the decedent from developing pressure ulcers, the decedent developed severe pressure ulcers, which ultimately led to her death.
The plaintiffs’ medical expert testified during his deposition in the Georgia nursing home negligence case that the defendant nursing home physician breached the standard of care in numerous ways, including, but not limited to, failing to implement a proper wound care plan, failing to respond to concerns raised by other medical professionals regarding the resident, failing to ensure the performance of adequate assessments of the resident’s condition, failing to follow applicable policies and procedures, and by failing to take part in the plan of care already implemented for the resident.
The plaintiff also provided the following testimony from the Chief Medical Examiner for DeKalb County regarding the cause of the resident’s death: “[w]e can discuss all these other potential causes of death. . . but my opinion is going to be rock solid that she’s septic from her ulcers,” and that sepsis resulting from ulcers caused her death.
The Appellate Court held that the Chief Medical Examiner’s testimony that sepsis resulting from pressure ulcers caused the resident’s death, along with the plaintiffs’ medical expert’s testimony that it was the defendant nursing home physician’s breach of the standard of care which caused the ulcers to develop, “appears to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to causation that should be determined by a jury.”
The Appellate Court stated that there is no requirement in Georgia law that plaintiffs use a “proximate causation expert,” and it is well established that “[c]ausation may be established by linking the testimony of several different experts.”
The Appellate Court held that the plaintiffs have established that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to proximate cause by linking the testimony of their experts, and thus the issue of causation should properly be heard by a jury.
Source Fields v. Taylor, A16A1753, A16A1754.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in Georgia or in another U.S. state that may be due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, or nursing home abuse, you should promptly contact a local nursing home claim lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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