Medical Malpractice in Emergency Situations

In Georgia medical malpractice law, the state legislature in 2005 enacted a law that differentiates medical care given under normal circumstances and medical care administered during emergency situations. With that law, the legislature established a standard of care and a burden of proof for emergency situations which limit potential medical malpractice liability for emergency doctors and medical staff. The Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the law as constitutional in Gliemmo v. Cousineau in March 2010.

This is background for a recent case that came out of the Court of Appeals, Johnson v. Omondi et al. This case involved the family of a young man, Shaquille Johnson, who died of a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs) after being treated in the ER. Shaquille had undergone knee surgery and eight days later came to the emergency room complaining of pain on the left side of his chest. The staff reviewed the patient’s medical and family history and did numerous tests, none of which, according to the doctor, Dr. Price Paul Omondi, pointed to the young man being at risk for a pulmonary embolism. Dr. Omondi concluded that his patient suffered from pleurisy, an inflammation around the lungs usually caused by an infection, and sent him home with medication. The young man died two weeks later and the family sued for medical malpractice.

Shaquille Johnson’s family claimed that Dr. Omondi did not uphold the appropriate standard of care with Shaquille. They claim that there were numerous ways Dr. Omondi deviated from what should have been the professional practice in ruling out a pulmonary embolism, such as ordering a CT scan or an ultrasound of the leg that had been recently operated on.

The Court of Appeals, using the emergency medical care statute, affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment for the defendants, Dr. Omondi and the Southwest Emergency Physicians, PC. The court said the plaintiffs, the Johnson family, did not meet the higher evidence standard (clear and convincing evidence), and they failed to show that Dr. Omondi was grossly negligent, as required for emergency situations. The decision, written by Judge William M. Ray, said that “even if some of the [plaintiffs’] allegations of negligence could somehow be construed as approaching gross negligence, any such allegations fall far short of providing evidence that is ‘substantially higher’ than a preponderance of the evidence.”

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you or a loved one has suffered from medical malpractice, the personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter are available to help. Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with medical malpractice claims in Georgia courts, and we understand the various laws and how they may affect your case. If you have any questions or want to discuss a potential case, call our law office at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

The attorneys and staff at Sammons & Carpenter wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy holiday season!

See Our Related Blog Posts:
The Myth of Courts Overburdened by Medical Malpractice Cases
Nationwide Pradaxa lawsuit