A Greenwood doctor and Self Regional Healthcare were ordered to pay more than $1 million in a medical malpractice case alleging negligence that led to a woman’s death.
Rozella Goldman was admitted to the emergency room at Self Regional Medical Center in March of 2011, according to a legal complaint filed June 16, 2014. She was coughing, with congestion and shortness of breath.
She was put in the care of Dr. Mark Robirds, along with nursing staff from Self. She was treated for bronchitis and hypoxia — and was on Coumadin, a blood thinner.
Robird prescribed Lovenox, another blood thinner, to be taken at the time of the order, then once every 12 hours, the complaint said. While the order came in at 1:30 a.m., according to the complaint, she wasn’t given the drug until after 4 a.m., and then was given three total doses in 18 hours.
With her blood unable to clot properly, Goldman developed a hematoma in her right leg, causing a breakdown of the skin that needed care from a wound care nurse, the document said.
“In spite of the clinical information being recorded in the patient’s chart for review by Dr. Robirds ... the condition was not properly recognized and appropriately treated and managed by defendants,” the complaint said.
Goldman was discharged, and, in later months, had to have further treatment and surgery for issues that arose while at Self, the complaint said.
“Ms. Goldman died January 25, 2014 as a direct and proximate result of the negligent medical care rendered to her by the defendants,” the complaint said.
The complaint asked a court to award money, as determined by a jury. In Robirds’ answer to the complaint, he denied deviating from the standards of care and treatment and denied any neglect or contribution to Goldman’s death.
The answer further said that Goldman’s death and injuries were “primarily caused and/or occasioned by a natural disease process over which these defendants have no control.”
Self’s answer to the complaint also denied negligence, saying the ulcer Goldman developed was caused by underlying, chronic ill health.
Paperwork filed Aug. 18 showed the parties tried to resolve the issue without further legal action through alternative dispute resolution — but mediation found they were at an impasse.
A jury was selected on May 22, and four days later determined Self and Robirds were negligent.
The jury awarded $103,054.10 in economic damages, and $1 million in non-economic damages — with Robirds ordered to pay 80 percent of the total, and Self the remaining 20 percent.
“We appreciate the jury’s work on this case throughout the week,” said Rusty Harter, Robirds’ attorney. “We feel that Mrs. Goldman experienced a complication that was unavoidable, and she had an unfortunate outcome.”
He praised Robirds as a quality physician, and said he did everything he could have — adding that he expected a different outcome to the case. Harter said there will be post-trial motions in respect to the dollar amount of the verdict, but it’s too early to decide on whether they will appeal the decision.
“We sympathize with Mrs. Goldman’s family, but we believe we followed the best standard of care for her case,” said Craig White, vice president of corporate compliance, government affairs and internal audit at Self. “Obviously, the jury disagreed. We are currently considering an appeal but have not yet made a decision.”