At 1:30, the COA will hear the case of Della Sumrall and Roy Sumrall v. Singing River Health System
Della Sumrall was admitted to Ocean Springs Hospital on February 23, 2012, with cholecystitis (inflamation and/or irritation of the gallbladder). It was decided that her gallbladder would be removed. The anesthesiologist placed a central line in the external jugular vein. She was scheduled to be discharged on February 29. On that day, the nurse removed the central line after which Della suffered a “neurological event” (defendants call it a stroke; plaintiffs call it an embolism) resulting in brain damage. Della and her husband sued. The Hospital maintains that Della had other conditions which made her at high risk for stroke (she had high blood pressure, was a heavy smoker, suffered from diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Plaintiffs contend that the stroke was from an embolism due to the negligent removal of the central line.
After a bench trial (Tort Claims Act), the court found for the defendants.
On appeal, plaintiffs claim the court erred in allowing Dr. Jim Corder to testify about the standard of care for nurses performing a central line removal because he was “not designated, not qualified, and not tendered as a nursing expert.”
Plaintiffs also argue that “The trial judge erred in requiring Plaintiffs to prove their case by overwhelming proof rather than by a preponderance of the evidence” and that the trial court’s ruling for the defense was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
Singing River’s Brief
Sumralls’ reply brief
Watch the argument here.
Some states do not allow doctors to testify regarding the standard of care for nurses. As one law journal article puts it: Nursing is Not a Lesser Included Profession: Why Physicians Should not Be Allowed to Establish the Nursing Standard of Care, 16 Quinnipiac Health L.J. 43. Where this holds true, a plaintiff typically must hire a nursing expert to testify as to the standard of care and a doctor to testify about proximate cause. Noted Pennsylvania lawyer Howard Bashman won a victory for plaintiffs’ lawyers when he got the Pennsylvania Superior Court to rule that a nursing expert can also supply causation. Not sure about the state of Mississippi law on these issues. The Plaintiffs here do not seem to be arguing that a doctor can’t testify as to the standard of care for nurses, only that the designation of Dr. Corder did not reveal that he would testify on this subject.