Partners Chad McGowan and Johnny Felder won a $13.75 million verdict against the Aiken Regional Medical Centers in South Carolina after doctors delayed treating a patient with sepsis – a failure that eventually cost the victim three of her limbs. This was an extraordinary case of medical negligence, and all of us at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, are proud to see justice served on behalf of our client.
The complaint against Aiken Regional Medical Centers for medical malpractice
On December 6, 2012, Mrs. Seletha Gartrell was admitted to Aiken Regional Medical Centers at 9:34 a.m. with a “very rapid respiratory rate at 28, a high heart rate of 155, a low oxygen level at 89 percent and a high temperature of 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit,” as the Aiken Standard reports. It took 14 hours for Mrs. Gartrell to receive the medication she needed; it took 5 hours for her to even been seen by a physician. At just past midnight on December 7, 2012, “Mrs. Gartrell arrested. She had a Code Blue, and her pulse was restored. From that point, her extremities started to show mottling and other sings of ischemia. Eventually, Mrs. Gartrell was transferred to MUSC, where she underwent a triple amputation.”
In short: Mrs. Gartrell entered the Emergency Room of Aiken Regional Medical Centers showing signs of sepsis – she went into septic shock while she was there, a life-threatening condition – yet was not treated properly by any attending doctors or nurses for 14 hours. She ended up going into cardiac arrest. The end result of these experiences is that Mrs. Gartrell lost both of her legs from the knee down, her left arm below her elbow, and a number of the fingers on her right hand.
The jury agreed that this was a case of medical malpractice, and awarded Mrs. Gartrell $10 million in economic damages, and $3.75 million in non-economic damages.
Getting to the bottom of Aiken Regional Medical Centers’ malpractice problems
Emergency room errors are a serious problem at hospitals around the country, but determining how much of a problem is, in itself, problematic. Every year, the Leapfrog Group conducts a national survey of U.S. hospitals and facilities to see how they perform. But Aiken Regional Medical Centers has declined to respond to this year’s survey. Potential patients have no way of seeing how many acts of medical negligence or malpractice are committed in this particular South Carolina hospital, which means they could be subjecting themselves to serious dangers.
They are hardly the only ones: 23 different South Carolina hospitals declines to respond to Leapfrog’s survey. Out of the 62 hospitals on their list, only half are rated “Fully meets standards” when it comes to “Appropriate Use of Antibiotics in Hospitals.” Less than half meet those standards when it comes to “Never Events Management.”
Ironically enough, Aiken is ranked “high performing” by U.S. News & World Report for heart failure – the very condition that exacerbated Mrs. Gartrell’s already tenuous condition, leading to the amputation of her limbs.
Our hearts break for the Gartrell family, but we are happy that Chad McGowan and Johnny Felder were able to secure compensation to help them. Nothing will replace Mrs. Gartrell’s limbs, nor the freedom she used to enjoy, but in this case, a jury agreed that she and her family needed justice.
At McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC, we help victims of medical malpractice in South Carolina obtain the help they need. If you were permanently disfigured or disabled because of a medical error at Aiken Regional Medical Centers, or any hospital throughout the state, we want to help. Please call 803-327-7800, or fill out our contact form, and schedule your free initial consultation with one of our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys today.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood