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McKeen Attorneys Successfully Argue to Keep ER Physician and Nurses on Case

On May 13, McKeen and Associates attorney, J Kelly Carley, successfully argued against an attempt by Sparrow Hospital to have its emergency room physician and nurses dismissed from a pending lawsuit. 

The case, filed by McKeen Law Firm in Ingham County, alleges that emergency room personnel at Sparrow Hospital failed to timely diagnose and treat a urinary tract infection, which was exacerbated by a kidney stone. The client, a 36-year-old mother of three, was discharged from the ER without proper treatment. As a result, her infection worsened and she developed septic shock. In an effort to save her life, physicians had to amputate both legs at the knee and the fingers on each hand. The young woman survived, but now must deal with her catastrophic injuries.

Sparrow Hospital argued that its emergency room physician should be dismissed because she did not see the patient nor was she responsible for the physician's assistant who had been assigned to the patient. Attorney Carley argued that the physician's assistant's statute in effect at the time of the malpractice did not allow the emergency room physician to delegate all authority for treatment to a physician's assistant. Further, he argued that the emergency room physician had an affirmative duty of her own to oversee and supervise the physician's assistant's care. The Ingham County judge agreed with attorney Carley and denied Sparrow's attempt to have the ER physician dismissed.

With regard to its emergency room nurses, Sparrow argued that they should be dismissed because the physician's assistant had testified that regardless of what she would have been told by the nurses, she would have still discharged the client. As such, the nurses' failure to inform the physician's assistant of the client's declining clinical condition played no role in the improper discharge. Attorney Carley argued that the question of what the physician's assistant would or would not do with the information from the nurses was a question of fact to be determined by a jury. Also, the point was made that there were independent allegations against the nurses; specifically, that they did not go up the chain of command when it was apparent the physician's assistant was going to discharge the ill young woman. Again, the judge agreed with the McKeen attorney and would not dismiss the nurses from the lawsuit.

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