Jury favors local hospital
Sabrina Bates, News Editor
Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009 3:38 pm
After more than two weeks of testimony, a panel of Weakley County jurors cleared a Martin hospital of negligence Tuesday morning after two hours of deliberation.
Volunteer Community Hospital and its former employee, Shani Edge, R.N. were named in a suit by the mother of a deceased University of Tennessee at Martin student.
Jodi Woods, an education major at UT Martin, reportedly entered the emergency room of the local hospital on June 20, 2006 complaining of a headache.
Within five hours, Woods was intubated and flown to Jackson Madison County General Hospital where she remained in a coma for five days until her death.
She was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
Her mother, Donna Shedd of Lawrenceburg, filed an original suit against Volunteer; Edge, the nurse on call when her daughter was in the hospital’s emergency room and the doctor on call that day, David Oruma.
The suit alleged Woods was treated as an overdose drug patient and did not receive adequate care for her condition when she was at the Martin hospital.
While a test result showed Woods had an elevated white blood cell count, she did not receive an antibiotic until four hours after she was admitted to the emergency room, according to the original suit.
Throughout the last two weeks, jurors heard testimony for both sides in the case, including expert witnesses.
“According to our doctors, the only thing that would have saved her (Woods) was a vaccine,” Dixie Cooper said in a phone conversation Wednesday.
Cooper is an associate with Gideon Wiseman of Nashville, the firm representing the hospital during the negligence suit.
“We think the jury reached the right conclusion and the nurse accused in this case did her job and did what she was supposed to do,” Cooper said.
“The jury heard the evidence and the facts did not support the claims of negligence against the hospital,” she added.
The jury ruled there was no fault by Volunteer Community Hospital through its employee, Shani Edge.
Shedd commented on Wednesday that she at peace, but hurt because she and her family have never heard “I’m sorry,” from the hospital staff or administration.
“Even if they wanted to say this was no fault of their own, at least tell us they are sorry that it happened,” Shedd commented.
She added that while people are expecting the family to be angry or resentful, she respects the jury’s decision.
“Those 15 people were intelligent and made the best decision based on what they heard and saw during the trial. I respect their decision,” Shedd commented.
“This was never about the money. I know some people will never believe that. I wanted to tell the story and we gave it to God. I wanted to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child,” she added.
Those words were similar to the words of a mother who claims to have visited the emergency room of the same hospital 21 days before Woods became a patient at Volunteer.
Tracey Jones of Martin shared her thoughts surrounding the negligence case initially charging Dr. Oruma.
Jones said on May 30, 2006 she had taken her 8-year-old child to Volunteer’s emergency room around 2:30 a.m. for dizziness and muscle twitching. The physician on call that morning was Dr. Oruma.
One hour after arriving at the hospital, Oruma reportedly entered the room asking which of the two were sick, according to Jones.
After being told that her son “might not make it” and they were going to be airlifted to LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, Jones said she experienced a whirlwind of emotions.
Shortly after, Jones’s child was released into the care of his physician. “There were no tests ordered for a bacterial or viral infection even though he had a high white blood count. He was not diagnosed or treated at all,” Jones commented.
It was six days later on June 5, 2006 that Jones had mailed a letter of complaint to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
In her letter, she describes the events surrounding her child’s emergency room visit at Volunteer Community Hospital.
“Why are they still allowing this man to misdiagnose and mistreat people when they know he is a lawsuit waiting to happen? What will be done?” Jones’s letter reads.
“Had they taken my son’s case seriously, Jodi might still be here,” Jones told The Press.
“There was no way on June 5, 2006 to know what would happen on June 20. My hope was that I could prevent something like this happening to someone else’s child,” Jones added.
Jones was originally scheduled to testify in the suit against Volunteer Community Hospital until Dr. Oruma settled his case before the trial. Oruma is no longer employed by Volunteer Community Hospital.
Shedd said she does not wish her situation on anyone. “It’s a heavy burden to carry.”