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Reeves v. Mahathre

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 11, 2014

REEVES et al.
v.
MAHATHRE et al

Reconsideration denied July 25, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.

Medical malpractice. Bibb Superior Court. Before Judge Brown.

Tracey L. Dellacona , Adams & Adams, Charles R. Adams III , Gautreaux & Adams, Jarome E. Gautreaux, for appellants.

Commander Pound Butler, Theodore E. G. Pound , Kathleen W. Simcoe , McCall Williams, W. Earl McCall , Jones, Cork & Miller, Carr G. Dodson, for appellees.

DILLARD, Judge. Doyle, P. J., concurs. Miller, J., concurs in judgment only.

OPINION

Dillard, Judge.

In this wrongful-death action premised on medical malpractice, appellants Michael Reeves, Sharon Reeves, and Marcus Reeves, Jr., individually, and Michael Reeves, as executor of the Estate of Jonelle Reeves (collectively, " Appellants" ), sued Dr. Vijay Mahathre and his employer, Ben Hill Emergency Group LLC (collectively, " Dr. Mahathre" ),[1] inter alia,[2] alleging that Dr. Mahathre was negligent in the medical care

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he provided to their mother, Jonelle Reeves (" Reeves" ), in the emergency department at Dorminy Medical Center (" DMC" ). Dr. Mahathre, an emergency-room physician, filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that he did not breach the applicable standard of care when he treated Reeves and, further, that Appellants failed to [328 Ga.App. 547] establish a causal connection between his care of Reeves and her subsequent death. The trial court granted Dr. Mahathre's motion, and Appellants claim that the court erred in doing so. Because we agree that the appellate record fails to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Dr. Mahathre's treatment proximately caused Reeves's death, we affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to Appellants as the nonmovants,[3] the record shows that at approximately 6:20 p.m. on May 21, 2008, Reeves, a 71-year-old with a history of diabetes and hypertension, presented at the emergency room in DMC, complaining of nausea and severe pain in her abdomen and right flank. Dr. Mahathre was her attending emergency-room physician. After taking a medical history and conducting a physical examination, Dr. Mahathre ordered a series of tests, including a complete blood count, blood-chemistry analysis, urinalysis, and an upright kidney-ureter-bladder x-ray. He further administered Reeves an intramuscular injection of pain medication and an anti-nausea medicine, and also gave her an oral antibiotic.

Although Reeves's white-blood-cell count was elevated, possibly indicating an infection, both her urinalysis and x-ray were normal. The pain medication provided Reeves some relief and, without offering a formal diagnosis, Dr. Mahathre discharged her in " improved" condition at 8:45 p.m. with an antibiotic prescription and instructions to see her primary-care physician within two days.[4]

The following morning, May 22, 2008, Reeves was seen at her primary-care physician's office by an advanced-practice registered nurse and, later that afternoon, was admitted as an inpatient at DMC with increased abdominal pain, fever, and an elevated white-blood-cell count. Then, at approximately 9:35 p.m., an abdominal CT scan was performed, which showed that Reeves was suffering from a five millimeter kidney stone blocking her right ureterovesical junction.[5]

After discovering Reeves's diagnosis and, consequently, the need to consult a urologist, and given that DMC had no urologist on-call and available, the attending physician called Dr. Robert Gregory [328 Ga.App. 548] Anderson, a urologist from Tift Regional Medical Center, approximately 30 miles away. Dr. Anderson was unable to accept transfer of Reeves that evening because Tift Regional did not have an available bed, but a decision was made to transfer her first thing in the morning and admit her directly into the surgery unit where Anderson could then place a stent to relieve the blockage to her kidney.[6]

Reeves was transferred to Tift Regional by ambulance at approximately 8:00 a.m. the following morning (May 23, 2008). Upon her arrival ...


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