20 March 2018

Georgia Woman Secures $18M In Infection Misdiagnosis Lawsuit

A woman in Georgia has secured $18 million in compensation for alleged failures of medical care that left her, at the age of 58, paralyzed from the waist down, according to the Savannah Morning News. In her case, the patient accused a Savannah doctor of failing to diagnose a spinal infection in 2014, ultimately leading to paraplegia.

Undiagnosed Spinal Infection Caused Paralysis, Lawsuit Claims

According to court records, the patient was admitted to the emergency room after suffering from back pain in 2014. Dr. Sarah Barbour, a specialist in infectious diseases, was tapped to manage the patient’s care, but, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit, Barbour failed to notice that the woman’s back pain was being caused by an infection that had reached her central nervous system.

Antibiotic Pills On Pink Background

The infection, court documents say, ate into the woman’s thoracic spine, leaving her permanently disabled. The plaintiff was released from the hospital, with a discharge diagnosis of paralysis, 12 days after being admitted. She is confined to a wheelchair, her attorneys say, and still has no functional use of her legs.

$18 Million In Compensation

The jury verdict, rendered in Chatham County State Court, assessed millions in dollars of damages against a Savannah hospital, a physician specializing in infectious diseases and Southcoast Medical Group, the doctor’s former employer.

Dr. Sarah Barbour, along with her former employer, Southcoast Medical Group, have been ordered to pay $16.2 million in damages for their share in the liability. An additional $1.8 million has been assessed against St. Joseph’s / Candler, a medical consortium that owns the hospital.

Largest Jury Verdict In County History

At a total of $18 million, the verdict has been called the largest for a civil case in the history of Chatham County, WTOC reports. “I think the jury recognized that she was tragically, catastrophically injured,” says Jeff Harris, a plaintiffs’ attorney in the case. “She’s going to be a paraplegic the rest of her life, and as a result, the verdict reflected that.”

Attorneys say the compensation will go to cover the woman’s past and future medical expenses, ongoing living expenses and home modifications to make her house handicap accessible. No longer employed in Georgia, Dr. Sarah Barbour is now practicing in Orlando.

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