Mother loses wrongful death case against DRMC
by Courtney Warren
Dec 13, 2013 | 3781 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A verdict has been issued in the recent case of Willie B. Taylor versus Delta Regional Medical Center and it is in the favor of the hospital.

Lakenray Taylor, 20, of Gunnison was shot in the chest by a single bullet on the County Court Square sidewalk of Main Street in Rosedale on July 5, 2003, between 10:30-11 p.m.

Willie Bea Taylor, mother, and her team of lawyers, Collins and Attorney Helen Morris, attempted to prove that,"Dr. Billsby was listed on Mr. Taylor 's medical records as the trauma surgeon. However, Dr. Billsby was not qualified to provide emergency thoracic surgical care to the public in general or to Mr. Lekenray Taylor, in particular.

"Therefore, DRMC had neither a qualified trauma surgeon immediately available, nor a qualified thoracic surgeon immediately available.

"It was mandated by DRMC's Level II designation that it have such specialists immediately available. It failed to abide by the rules and regulations in which it was required so to do as a licensed Level II Trauma Center. Their duties were ministerial, not discretionary," according to court records.

The mother had asked for $500,000 for each family member for damages.

DRMC 's law team defended the hospital by saying that the trauma program was a voluntary program in 2003 and at the time DRMC applied to be a part of it, standards and regulations require many specialized doctors that Attorney Carl Hagwood said, "Delta Regional does not have and has never had."

The bench trial took place on Oct. 14-16 and was classified a wrongful death action.

According to Judge Richard Smith's final judgment and finding of facts and conclusions, the plaintiff needed to provide credible evidence to show "whether Dr. Billsby breached the standard of care for his decision not to attempt a surgery he deemed outside the scope of his expertise," … "whether DRMC, in 2003 a Level II trauma center, which voluntarily participated in the Mississippi Trauma System, breached any statutory mandated/non-discretionary duties under the Trauma System regulations to staff a Level II trauma center at certain levels and with certain particular physicians," and "whether DRMC is immune from liability due to certain discretionary functions and/or staffing-financial resource decisions."

Time was critical for Taylor as well as when Billsby responded.

In the final judgment the timeline is explained as Lakenray Taylor being struck and wounded in his chest during a drive-by shooting and taken by the Bolivar County EMS from Rosedale to the emergency room at Delta Regional Medical Center.

EMS was notified at 11:17 p.m. that an ambulance was needed and an ambulance arrived on the scene at 11:20 p.m. and arrived at DRMC at 11:56 p.m.

During the trial there was much discussion about whether or not the trauma team was activated in a timely manner and in the fact identification the trauma team is said to have been activated at 11:56, the minute Taylor arrived at the hospital, and was in place by 11:58 p.m.

The emergency room physician Dr. James Tuckers began his evaluation at 11:56 p.m. and the on-call general surgeon Dr. Alan Billsby arrived at 12:13 a.m.

According to the fact identification beginning at 11:56 p.m. Taylor was seen, evaluated, and treated by Tucker, Billsby, and Dr. Renia Dotson, a DRMC physician in charge of the Trauma Program at DRMC.

Taylor's injuries were severe and while he needed to be transferred, this wasn't a possibility.

According to the fact identification, "Mr. Taylor had a large hemopneumothorax; the bullet fragment had essentially exploded along with the posteriolateral chest wall. "The 'massive' gunshot wound to his chest was gushing blood and air. Multiple interventions were put in place, including direct compression to the wound, blood, IV fluids, right chest tube, left chest tube, right femoral trauma line and all ACLS and ATLS protocols were followed."

While, the timeline is exact, Willie Bea Taylor mother of Lakenray Taylor, told about her experience during the trial that made it seem as if these activations and responses weren't fast enough to save her son's life.

According to Taylor, a former nurse supervisor at DRMC and a part time nurse at DRMC at the time of her son's death, she was notified by the police while in Rosedale, and then drove to DRMC where her son was to be transported by ambulance.

On her way to DRMC Taylor said she called Ella Sweet, the nursing supervisor at the time, and said it was necessary that she activate the trauma team.

Upon arrival, Taylor was not permitted to see her son while the hospital staff stabilized him.

It wasn't until about two hours later that Taylor was allowed to see her son and it was then she only saw two people in the room caring for her child, a nurse and a respiratory therapist.

Taylor said her son had goose bumps on his arms and his fingers were white due to him lapsing into hypothermia. It was then that she began to apply pressure to the IV bag to initiate more fluids and called for a Bair Hugger, forced air-warming technology, to warm him.

Taylor asked why the cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Hugh Gamble, had not been called, to which she was told that everyone was out of town.

"The first person I called was Dr. Dotson," said Taylor.

"He immediately answered the phone," said Taylor.

Gamble questioned Taylor as to why Billsby had not called him sooner and Taylor said she did not know.

"I found Dr. Billsby in the doctor's lounge and asked would he call Dr. Gamble in about 15 minutes Dr. Gamble was in the room fussing and throwing his charts — he was devastated like I was devastated. He said 'why wasn't I called? This young man has a spider's web chance now,'" said Taylor.

Taylor also said that it would have been faster for her son to be taken to Clarksdale as it was closer to Rosedale, where he was shot, and he would have been closer to The Med, a trauma 1 center, but she chose Greenville because she was under the impression that a cardiovascular surgeon would be on the premises to treat her son.

Taylor believes that the hospital should have alerted EMS that the cardiovascular surgeon was not on duty that weekend so patients could be diverted to a different hospital if necessary.

However, when Gamble took the stand he testified that in 2003 a hospital's participation in the Trauma Care System was voluntary and in 2003 there was no Level II designated in Mississippi that had the medical specialists listed for a Level II facility under the "should be" on-call category and that there are only twenty thoracic surgeons in the state.

According to the fact identification, Gamble also testified that in his opinion the activation of the Trauma Team at DRMC at the time of the arrival of Taylor in the emergency room met the standard of cared.

The judge ultimately decided that the plaintiff failed to prove its case.

The court found that the plaintiff's testimony from a medical expert Frances Evans failed to carry the burden of proof for the plaintiff.

Evans had previously testified that Gamble did all he could but that Billsby should have operated and not waited on Gamble to arrive.

The court noted that Evans was not competent to testify as to an alleged duty imposed on DRMC according to its designation as a Level II Trauma Center because he had no education, training, or experience in that subject matter.

The court also noted that the plaintiff offered not one valid expert opinion regarding the standard of care and the plaintiff never identified in its complaint any nurse by name, did not allege any specific breach of duty nor articulated the standard for any such duty.

Finally, the court found that the physicians of DRMC met or exceeded the standard of care in the case of Taylor at all times and that this standard of care did not require Billsby to perform surgery outside of his area of expertise.