On Thursday, September 26, 2013 in Sedwick County District Court (18th
Judicial District) a unanimous verdict was reached by a jury awarding
$1,115,000 to a man who suffered a heart attack as a result of negligent
care by an occupational medicine physician treating him for injuries received at work.
Trial counsel Blake Shuart and
Mark Hutton of Huttton & Hutton
tried the case for seven days and the jury resolved the matter after 7
hours of deliberation. Defense counsel made no offers of settlement at
any time throughout the case. The Wichita Eagle Reports: Sedgwick County
jury finds doctor most at fault in work-injury malpractice case.
A Sedgwick County jury on Thursday found a physician to be at the most
fault in a work-injury malpractice lawsuit.
The jury reached a damage award of just under $1.12 million, of which $735,900
will go to the patient, the patient’s lawyer said.
The jury found that the physician, Ronald Davis, was 66 percent at fault,
and the patient, Andrew Henson, was 34 percent at fault for not going
to an emergency room on his own, said Mark Hutton, who along with lawyer
Blake Shuart represented Henson.
Hutton contends that the case illustrates a wider problem: that injured
employees sent to a doctor picked by a company – “the company
doctor” – have a mindset to try to get the employee back to
work as soon as they can instead of making sure the worker doesn’t
have a life-threatening condition.
The lesson of this case, Hutton said, “is when in doubt …
send them to the emergency room, where they get a higher level of care.
... Don’t send them back to work.”
Hutton said the case could cause physicians to be more careful. “Hopefully,
this may save a life or two,” he said.
Defense lawyers couldn’t be reached Thursday after the jury’s decision.
Hutton gave this summary of the lawsuit, filed in 2010: Henson, now 55,
of Augusta, was working for Belger Cartage as a heavy-duty equipment transporter
and mover. He suffered a crushing injury to his chest on Feb. 4, 2008,
when he was pinned between large containers.
A spokesman for Belger Cartage couldn’t be reached Thursday afternoon.
Because the injury was job-related, Henson was sent to an occupational
medicine physician, Davis, who was picked by the employer, Hutton said.
According to Hutton, Davis examined Henson and diagnosed the crushing
injury, saw Henson over a period of four days at a clinic, and told him
to call if his condition got worse.
Henson called on a Saturday and a Monday. Hutton contends that based on
those calls, Henson should have been sent to an emergency room for closer
examination. Instead, Davis directed Henson to return to him five days
later, Hutton said. When Henson returned to see the doctor, he was having
a heart attack, but Davis didn’t recognize it and sent Henson to
a CT scan, Hutton said.
When Henson went for the scan, a nurse realized that he was having a life-threatening
condition, put him in a wheelchair, and directed that he go to an adjacent
emergency room. Once in the ER, Henson went into full cardiac arrest and
suffered serious heart damage, Hutton said.
Hutton said the case showed that Henson began having a heart attack on
Feb. 9 and suffered the massive attack in the ER on Feb. 13.
If he had been sent to the ER on Feb. 9, 10 or 11, the massive attack would
have been prevented, Hutton contends.
Because of the heart damage Henson suffered from the heart attack, he lost
his job, Hutton said.
Henson is unemployed, and it’s doubtful he will be able to work again,
especially as a heavy-equipment transporter, Hutton said.
A device was implanted in his heart as a result of the heart attack, and
he can’t work around industrial machinery because it can interfere
with the device’s operation, Hutton said.
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/09/26/3023244/sedgwick-county-jury-finds-doctor.html#storylink=cpy