Millions at Stake in Georgia Suit Over Epidural that Led to Fatal Brain Injury

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Jan 13, 2015 7:45:00 PM




Editor's note: CVN will update this article with complete coverage of Tuesday's openings as soon as they become available. 

Atlanta, GA—Fulton County State Court jurors listened Tuesday to the details of how a seemingly routine epidural procedure left Gwendolyn Brown noncommunicative and with brain damage that was ultimately fatal, as trial opened in her husband Sterling Brown's suit against the medical providers involved in the procedure. Sterling Brown v. Southeastern Pain Specialists, P.C., et al., 10EV010621.

Gwendolyn Brown's airway became blocked while she was sedated during an epidural procedure for back pain at the Southeastern Pain Specialists' surgical facility in 2008. The blockage deprived Brown's brain of oxygen during the procedure, leaving her permanently unable to walk or communicate. She died six years later from complications related to the brain injury, according to Sterling Brown's attorney, Jay Sadd.

Brown is suing Southeastern Pain Specialists, its affiliates, Dr. Dennis Doherty and lead nurse Mary Hardwick, claiming that their negligence caused Gwendolyn Brown's brain damage. 

Sadd told jurors that the medical staff performing the procedure was aware that Brown had become oxygen deprived based on alerts from two oxygen pulse monitors, yet continued the procedure under the direction of Doherty. "All the nurses who were in the room that day, and all the employees will say she was not fine," Sadd said. "She was not breathing, and everybody knew it. Except maybe Dr. Doherty."

Sadd told jurors that evidence would indicate that Doherty may have been impaired during the procedure, based on his refusal to take action on testing equipment alerts. "You'll hear evidence that there's no way that any physician could ever ignore two (pulse-oxygen) monitors, and nurses telling him that pulse-oxygen is down and blood pressure's bad," Sadd said.

However, Southeastern Pain Management argues that its staff followed proper medical protocol during the procedure, and that they are not liable for the complications that caused Brown's brain damage. 

And regardless of whether there was any medical negligence, Hardwick's attorney, David Root, told jurors that Hardwick was not involved. "that was a surgical procedure that Ms. Hardwick was not scheduled to be involved in that day," Root said. "She didn't hear anything about (the procedure) until about about 15 minutes into it, and if there had been any damage, that damage was done by then."

Attorneys for the parties could not be reached for comment. 

CVN will provide full print coverage throughout the trial and will offer gavel-to-gavel video coverage upon the trial's conclusion. 


Related Information:

James Sadd, Daniel Epstein, and Edward Wynn of Slappey & Sadd, LLC, represent plaintiff Sterling Brown.

David Root and Neil Edwards, of Carlock Copeland, represent defendant Mary Hardwick. 

Click here for a copy of the first amended complaint. 

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Topics: Negligence, Malpractice, Georgia