The family of Johnny Sledge was awarded $30M in a medical malpractice lawsuit against DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Sledge was admitted to the ER after being struck by a stray bullet. Attorneys for his family said his wounds required immediate surgical intervention for internal injuries from the gunshot wound to his back. He was treated by the emergency room physician but was never evaluated or seen by a surgeon. On-call surgeon Dr. Bradley Bilton was performing an elective surgery at the time. Sledge died two hours after paramedics delivered him to the ER at DCH.
The verdict is against Dr. Bilton, University Surgical Associates, P.C., Dr. George Nunn, DCH’s director of trauma services, and Dr. Kenneth Aldridge, the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer.
Plaintiff’s attorneys said Sledge died as a result of errors and negligence in hospital policies and procedures for trauma calls. DCH policies allowed the on-call trauma surgeon to schedule elective procedures during on-call days which resulted in the surgeon not being available. While DCH policy required the unavailable on-call surgeon to locate another surgeon to fill in, the procedure was not adhered to in Sledge’s case.
Sledge was alert when emergency responders called in a trauma alert to the hospital ER. The complaint states that when Dr. Bilton was paged, he responded that he was in surgery and to “call someone else.” While DCH staff made calls, they could not locate an available surgeon. Paged a second time by the hospital, Dr. Bilton responded to “find a different surgeon.” When emergency room staff paged Dr. Bilton a third time, he responded that Sledge should be transferred to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
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