December 26, 2018, PNLR News
Failure to perform physical examination leads to sepsis
The estate of a woman who died of sepsis caused by a small bowel obstruction and perforated diverticulum sued a gastroenterology practice, alleging that the defendant’s nurse practitioner failed to examine her when she presented with stomach pain and other symptoms. The plaintiff claimed that a physical examination would have led to a timely diagnosis of diverticulitis. The jury awarded $1.65 million, including $500,000 in punitive damages. White v. Cumberland Gastroenterology, PSC.
After experiencing nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting, Lula Mae White, 72, was taken to Cumberland Gastroenterology. There, she was seen by a nurse practitioner, who noted White’s symptoms but did not perform a physical examination. He prescribed laxatives and gas medication for White, who was in severe pain. Two days later, White was rushed to a hospital, where a CT scan revealed a small bowel obstruction and a perforated diverticulum. White underwent surgery but died of sepsis within a month. She is survived by her husband and adult daughter.
White’s estate sued Cumberland Gastroenterology, alleging liability for the nurse practitioner’s failure to perform a physical examination, which would have led to a timely diagnosis of diverticulitis. The plaintiff argued that the nurse practitioner also had altered the medical record after learning that White had been hospitalized.
The jury awarded $1.65 million, including $500,000 in punitive damages.
Citation: White v. Cumberland Gastroenterology, PSC, No. 17-CI-00598 (Ky. Cir. Ct. Pulaski Cnty. Nov. 29, 2018).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Hans Poppe and Scarlette B. Kelty, both of Louisville, Ky.