Jurors Selected in West Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Jurors Selected in West Virginia Medical Malpractice LawsuitOn Tuesday, January 17, a panel of jurors was selected for a medical malpractice trial involving St. Francis Hospital and a few of its doctors regarding the 2007 death of a 67-year-old man from Charleston.

According to the Charleston Daily Mail, the complaint was filed by Michael Dunnavant, son of Clarence Leroy Dunnavant. The lawsuit stems from an incident in which Clarence, a victim of multiple sclerosis, was admitted to St. Francis Hospital with a urinary tract infection. Dunnavant alleges his father was killed by the hospital physicians' failure to properly diagnose and treat a bowel perforation.

According to the National Library of Medicine, bowel perforation occurs when a hole develops through the entire wall of the bowel, and is considered a medical emergency. The location of the perforation can be determined through a CT scan, and surgery is typically used to repair the perforation, generally with success.

Kanawha Circuit Judge James Stucky will preside over the case. Dunnavant's medical malpractice attorney told the jurors that while Clarence was in the hospital, the family became increasingly concerned about the man's condition, allegedly asking the doctor to examine the man several times. However, the physician conferred with a nurse by phone until about 3 a.m, when Clarence was moved into the intensive care unit.

According to the news source, Clarence died shortly before 5 a.m. as he was being prepared for surgery. The lawsuit alleged that Mountain State Medical Association and Mountain Emergency Physicians Robert Eggleston and Justin Bailey are to blame for the death.

Dunnavant's attorney stated that Eggleston, Clarence's primary physician, saw him earlier that day, and noted that he would likely be released the following day. But as the man's condition worsened, Bailey, the physician on call, allegedly didn't come to the hospital but ordered an X-ray and other treatments.

However, "a lot of miscommunication" occurred between the nurses and physicians, the lawyer said, which was to blame for the man's death.

"His abdomen was so distended it became hard for him to breathe," the attorney said. "And still no doctor saw him. The doctor on call was never told how bad it was. They didn't want to inconvenience him."

Testimony in the trial began on January 18, and is expected to last for at least two weeks.