Medical Malpractice Case at GA Supreme Court

Another medical malpractice case is going to be decided by the Supreme Court of Georgia, according to news sources. This case, one the blog has followed (see here), involves a young man who died from blood clots in his lungs after knee surgery and involves the standard of care in emergency situations. The oral arguments were made last week, on July 2, before the Supreme Court in the case Johnson v. Omondi.

The young man was 15 year old Shaquille Johnson, who had knee surgery for a football injury. Eight days later he went to the emergency room at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital complaining of pain in the left side of his chest, and an emergency room doctor, Dr. Price Paul Omondi, treated him accordingly. Dr. Omondi diagnosed Shaquille with pleurisy and sent him home with some pain medicine. Two weeks later Shaquille was taken by ambulance to the same emergency room where it was found he had blood clots in his lungs, a condition that caused his death.

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Shaquille’s parents, Sheldon and Thelma Johnson, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, but lost in both the trial court and Court of Appeals (this blog discussed the Court of Appeals decision here), where summary judgment was granted to Dr. Omondi and the co-defendant, Southwest Emergency Physicians, PC, stating the Johnson’s did not meet the necessary evidentiary standard. The evidentiary standard is higher in emergency room cases than for other medical malpractice cases in Georgia law, and requires “clear and convincing” evidence that the defendant medical professional was grossly negligent. Since summary judgment was granted, the Johnson’s never got to put their case before a jury.

In April, the Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari to this case. The Court will now decide whether the Johnson family was entitled to a jury trial in the case of Shaquille’s death, considering the question of whether the Court of Appeal was incorrect in its application of the “gross negligence standard” for emergency room malpractices cases. Reports state that the Johnson’s obtained the testimony of two national experts saying that Shaquille’s first ER visit presented classic symptoms of the blood clots, called a pulmonary embolism, which should have been discovered by Dr. Omondi.
The decision of the Supreme Court in Johnson v. Omondi could have a big impact on medical malpractice cases coming from negligence in emergency room visits, so our medical malpractice lawyers will be watching for the Court’s decision.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been injured by a medical professional, or someone you know has been the victim of a wrongful death, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options. Our lawyers keep up with ongoing cases and potential changes in Georgia’s law to know how it may affect our clients and future clients. Contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation
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