Sunday, July 1, 2007

Amite mayor held liable in malpractice suit

Also doctor, town’s chief sued for not treating patient
AMITE — A Tangipahoa Parish jury found that an Amite family physician’s failure to treat a diabetic patient’s rising blood sugar levels led to the ailing man’s dementia and institutionalization for the last three years of his life.

That same jury handed down an $814,079 award on June 22 for damages against Dr. Reggie Goldsby, who also is mayor of the town, for the pain and suffering of the late Marion Hendry and his only daughter, Tanya Hendry Sparks, court records show.

In 2000, Sparks, acting on her father’s behalf, filed a medical malpractice complaint in the 21st Judicial District Court against Goldsby and Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite. After that, she filed a lawsuit seeking damages in 2003 against Goldsby, his liability insurance company and the hospital.

The hospital was dropped from the suit before trial, Sparks’ attorneys said.

According to court records, Marion Hendry entered Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite for treatment of a swollen hand on March 13, 2000.

Eleven days later, he suffered from dementia and dehydration and his health had declined so severely that he was unresponsive. As a result, Hendry’s daughter had him transferred to another hospital, North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, court records show.

Hendry, a retired high school teacher and former assistant superintendent for the Tangipahoa Parish School System, never recovered from his dementia and died three years later in an assisted living facility, said Hendry’s attorneys, Charles Moore and Patrick Boryles.

A medical examination board, a panel of doctors who determine whether medical personnel are at fault in malpractice complaints, found that Goldsby failed to treat Hendry, a known non-insulin dependent diabetic, for his rising blood sugar levels while under his care at Hood. That failure likely led to his failing health and dementia while at Hood, the board decided in April 2003, court records show.

The board found that Goldsby failed to follow “standard practices of care” in treating Hendry, according to court records.

However, the medical examination board did not link Goldsby’s mistake to Hendry’s permanent disability and dementia. Instead, a trial jury was charged in 2003 with determining whether Goldsby caused Hendry’s injuries, Moore said.

After a four-day jury trial and two hours of deliberations on June 22, the jurors found that Goldsby’s breach in care led to Hendry’s declining physical and mental health and eventual death on Nov. 28, 2003.

Goldsby did not return telephone messages seeking comment. His attorney, James Strain, also did not return calls, but his staff said Strain was in Shreveport Tuesday and Wednesday working on another case.
Advocate Florida parishes bureau

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