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State Supreme Court Rules on Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Case

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Mississippi allowed a victim of alleged medical malpractice to put up an expert witness to testify as to whether the victim may have avoided having a stroke had the defendant hospital provided him with the proper medical care. In the case of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport v. White, the plaintiff was a patient at Memorial Hospital who claimed that the Hospital’s negligence in failing to diagnose his pre-stroke symptoms contributed to his having a stroke in the days after he visited the hospital.

stethoscope-1427015According to the court’s opinion, White first went to a different medical center complaining of slurred speech and tingling in his arms and legs. Staff at that hospital conducted a CT scan, which came back negative, and they sent White home with no treatment.

The next day, White continued to have slurred speech and was now experiencing numbness on the left side of his body. He went to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with hypertension, given medication, and sent home. He was advised to follow up with his primary care physician in a few days.

The following day, White went back to the original medical center he visited on the first day of his symptoms, complaining of a fall about an hour earlier. While he was there, staff conducted an MRI and determined that White had suffered a stroke in the preceding hours. He was then transported back to Memorial, where he was ultimately treated for the stroke and where he remained for the next 30 days. After his discharge from Memorial, White had to undergo four to five months of outpatient therapy, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

White sued Memorial, as well as the medical center, alleging medical malpractice. Prior to trial, White settled with the medical center, and the case proceeded to trial against Memorial only.

White Is Successful at Trial

At trial, White called an expert to testify that, had he gotten the proper treatment the first time he visited Memorial, he could have avoided having a stroke. Memorial objected to the introduction of the expert’s testimony, claiming that the expert’s opinions were not supported by medical literature. Memorial also presented their own expert, who testified that White would likely have had a stroke regardless of what treatment was provided at Memorial that day. The court sided with White.

Memorial Challenges the Expert’s Testimony

Memorial made the same argument on appeal that an expert’s testimony must be supported by medical literature. However, the appellate court agreed with the plaintiff again, noting that there is no requirement that an expert’s testimony be supported by peer-reviewed literature. Therefore, the lower court was correct to allow the testimony.

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of medical malpractice in the State of Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, keep in mind that hospitals and doctors are often represented by dedicated defense counsel who are prepared to fight the cases against their clients — often to the bitter end. Therefore, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney yourself, both to evaluate the strength of your case and also to gain strategic insight. Call the Dean Firm at 352-387-8700 today to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Pick-Up Truck Crashes into Cape Coral Pool Hall, Killing One and Injuring Three Others, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 3, 2015.

Florida Hit-and-Run Driver Sentenced to 20 Years in Jail, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 14, 2015.