Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Ragland Law Firm, LLP has helped a severely injured woman achieve an important appellate victory in a medical malpractice case. The Georgia Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of an asplenic patient who pursued a malpractice lawsuit against several of her physicians after suffering an overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) which resulted in the amputation of her limbs. The plaintiff, a wife and mother of three young children, became asplenic as a teenager due to injuries she suffered in a car accident that necessitated the surgical removal of her spleen. During the next two decades, none of her treating physicians ever warned her about the risks of OPSI or advised her to receive vaccines recommended for anyone with asplenia (lack of a functioning spleen).

Because she never received immunizations needed by asplenic patients, the plaintiff contracted an OPSI in September 2004, just a few months after giving birth to her third child. She was hospitalized for nearly a year and underwent multiple procedures including surgeries to amputate her arms and legs. In 2006, she retained medical malpractice attorney Daniel Ragland who filed a lawsuit against a primary care physician and several OB-GYN physicians who the plaintiff had seen regularly during the 1999-2004 period just prior to her OPSI. The malpractice lawsuit, filed in August 2006, alleged that each physician knew that the plaintiff had lost her spleen, and committed malpractice by failing to vaccinate her against the various bacterial pathogens known to cause OPSI.
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On July 8, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari filed by three physician defendants in the case of Lyon v. Schramm, 291 Ga.App. 48, 661 S.E.2d 178 (2008). That medical malpractice case involves a 43-year woman who claims that her longtime primary care and OB-GYN physicians failed to give her certain vaccinations and other care recommended for persons who have no spleen. Because of her asplenia and her physicians’ failures to appropriately immunized her, the Plaintiff claims that she suffered an “overwhelming post-splenectomy infection” (OPSI) that led to the amputation of both of her legs and both of her arms. The Plaintiff is being represented in Atlanta by Daniel A. Ragland, a personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer at Ragland Law Firm, LLP.

The defendant-physicians assert that the Plaintiff’s claims of professional negligence are barred by Georgia’s five year medical malpractice statute of repose because the patient first starting seeing them more than five years before the lawsuit was filed. For this reason, the trial court granted Motions to Dismiss on behalf of the Defendants in April 2007. Mr. Ragland appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals which reversed the trial court’s decision finding that the five year statute of repose had not expired. The Georgia Court of Appeals reasoned that the Defendants had failed to vaccinate and otherwise properly protect their asplenic patient from the risks of OPSI on many occasions, including visits which took place during the five year pre-suit period. As such, the Georgia Court of Appeals agreed that negligent acts which were committed within five years of the lawsuit could support timely malpractice claims by the Plaintiff.

Both sides have now filed their appellate briefs with the Georgia Supreme Court. Oral argument before the Georgia Supreme Court has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, October 20, 2008.

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In a case being handled by Ragland Law Firm, LLP, the Georgia Court of Appeals has recently held that a Fulton County Superior Court Judge should not have dismissed the malpractice claims of an asplenic patient who alleged that her longtime primary care physician and OB-GYN physicians had failed to recommend steps to protect her against an overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI). On March 27, 2008, the Georgia Court of Appeals handed down its 4-3 decision in Lyon v. Schramm, et al., 291 Ga.App. 48, 661 S.E.2d 178 (2008). The majority held that Georgia’s five year medical malpractice statute of repose, O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71(b), did not bar the Plaintiff’s claims even though the Defendants first failed to start protecting the Plaintiff against the risk of OPSI more than 5 years prior to the filing of her lawsuit.

The case arose from a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Atlanta Attorney Daniel Ragland on behalf of a severely injured woman and her husband in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia on August 29, 2006. That lawsuit alleged that because of injuries she suffered at age 17 in a 1982 car accident, the plaintiff’s damaged spleen had to be surgically removed in a procedure known as a splenectomy. As a result, the plaintiff lived her adult years without a spleen which left her at risk for developing a life threatening fulminant condition known as “overwhelming post-splenectomy infection,” a rapidly developing septicaemia which can result when an asplenic individual is exposed to certain encapsulated bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, or Haemophilus influenzae. These pathogens pose minimal risk to healthy and non-immunocompromised persons with fully functioning spleens.
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