Sides wait for verdict
by Courtney Stevens
Oct 18, 2013 | 2281 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
"Delta Regional Medical Center failed, failed, failed," said Attorney Jim Collins during his closing argument Wednesday at the Leflore County Courthouse in Greenwood.

Court has been adjourned and now the plaintiffs and defendants will play a waiting game for four to five weeks until they receive a verdict.

Lakenray Taylor, 20, of Gunnison was shot in the chest by a single bullet on the County Court Square sidewalk of Main Street in Rosedale on July 5, 2003, between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Willie Bea Taylor, mother, and her team of lawyers, Collins and Attorney Helen Morris, continued Wednesday to prove, according in a fax sent to The Bolivar Commercial that,"Dr. Billsby was listed on Mr. Taylor's medical records as the trauma surgeon. However, Dr. Billsby was not qualified to provide emergency thoracic surgical care to the public in general or to Mr. Lekenray Taylor, in particular.

"Therefore, DRMC had neither a qualified trauma surgeon immediately available, nor a qualified thoracic surgeon immediately available.

"It was mandated by DRMC's Level II designation that it have such specialists immediately available. It failed to abide by the rules and regulations in which it was required so to do as a licensed Level II Trauma Center. Their duties were ministerial, not discretionary."

The mother has asked for receive $500,000 for each family member for damages.

DRMC 's law team defends the hospital by saying that the trauma program was a voluntary program in 2003 and at the time DRMC applied to be a part of it, standards and regulations require many specialized doctors that Attorney Carl Hagwood said, "Delta Regional does not have and has never had."

Dr. Hugh Gamble, cardiovascular surgeon at DRMC and the surgeon that operated on Taylor, took the stand Wednesday to tell the court about the events of that night.

"Somewhere around 3 o'clock I was called by the answering service who indicated a gentleman had a gun shot wound and would I come see him," said Gamble.

This statement contradicted that of Taylor and of general surgeon Billsby, who said Taylor had called Gamble first.

The debate continued as to whether it was Taylor who asked for Gamble to come in or if Billsby had called knowing Taylor had already made the call.

"Dr. Billsby has no way of knowing this since he was not in my bedroom," said Gamble.

The argument was dropped and ruled as collateral at best.

Upon arrival to the hospital, Gamble viewed the x-ray and discovered that "the first five ribs are not visible. They were shards or fragments — that's 50 percent of the chest wall."

Gamble said Taylor's ribs "literally exploded."

After intense questioning on Tuesday between Taylor’s attorney Morris and Angela Vardaman, the primary nurse on the case, Vardaman said her hand could fit into "what was left of his chest," however, Gamble confirmed Wednesday that the bullet size was about the size of a quarter, however, due to the ribs being decimated, the chest wall caved in around the nurse's hand when applying pressure.

Gamble did agree with DRMC’s attorney that Billsby did all he could do to transfer Taylor and keep him stabilized.

Gamble also believes it would have been a mistake for Billsby to have operated on Taylor, given he is not a cardiovascular surgeon.

"If you don’t have that training you're going to make things worse," said Gamble.

The plaintiff's attorneys argued that there was no reason for a blind chest tube to be placed in Taylor's left side when his left side remained uninjured.

Gamble said that doctors typically put in a chest tube when things are going badly.

"If it helps, you're ahead of the game. If it doesn't, you haven't lost a nickel," said Gamble.

The plaintiff's attorneys once again argued that the services listed in the hospital regulations and descriptions of the trauma program should be offered to patients at all times.

"Does it say we offer these services 50 percent of the time? Does it say 'we offer these services 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Does it say we offer these services when we feel like it is in our discretion to do so,'" asked Morris to Gamble.

Gamble replied each time, "It's doesn’t say that."

Gamble explained that it was difficult to get the bleeding under control due to a "large area that was nothing but a raw bleeding mass…they were able to keep up with the situation, just not able to get ahead of the bleeding."

While Gamble most likely was called two hours too late, he still chose to operate. When asked why by Morris, he said, "I don't give up, even if it's futile. If life's still there you make the effort, even if there's a crappy chance."

Gamble left the stand with the firm belief that a transfer would not have helped because Taylor needed blood transfusion, which cannot be done on an ambulance.

Morris suggested the ambulance could have stopped at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center but Gamble said the hospital would not have allowed them to stop for supplies and continue on to The Med.

"Generally, blood banks don't have these things out like Wendy's," said Gamble.

DRMC’s Attorney Carl Hagwood then brought in Carl Boyd, general surgeon with a trauma and critical emphasis from Arkansas, as an expert witness.

Boyd agreed with the defense in that the trauma team was promptly activated and responded and that DRMC met with the national standard of care.

Boyd believed that Billsby was right in not attempting to operate.

"We would not be benefitting the patient. If we aren't comfortable, we should not approach it. We should try to keep them stabilized," said Boyd.

In closing arguments, Hagwood asked that the case be dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff's attorneys did not provide enough evidence.

"It's always a tragedy when someone is taken in a traumatic event," said Hagwood.

Hagwood maintained that the proof shows the DRMC trauma program acted as it should.

"Mississippi is a poor, rural state. It simply cannot and not have those resources that California or New York have," said Hagwood.

Collins ended the closing arguments by reiterating that Billsby did not call for a cardio surgeon soon enough and "what happened for the next hour and a half when DRMC dropped the ball?"

"Dr. Billsby could have and should have done whatever he could. Dr. Billsby did not do his best," said Collins.