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Jury sides with ER doctors on claim of woman’s delayed diagnosis

Defense verdict

Southwestern Missouri jurors determined that the timing of a diagnosis did not worsen injuries suffered by a woman with a spinal epidural abscess.

Plaintiff Lori Marshall went to an urgent care clinic in 2019 for back pain and was released after X-rays without lab work being done or any explanation for her discomfort. The pain grew worse despite the use of steroids and brought her to the ER two days later. She was given a referral for a neurosurgeon before being discharged.

Two days after that, she returned unable to stand properly because of the pain. An MRI then showed epidural fluid collection and central cord stenosis.

Forced into early retirement by her injuries, Marshall now requires the use of a walker. Defense attorney Mandy Kamykowski of Kamykowski & Taylor said that the dispute was not over the extent of her damages but rather whether an earlier diagnosis would have led to a better result.

“Our theory was that if we had consulted neurosurgery when she had no neurological deficits, the neurosurgeon likely wouldn’t have done anything different,” she said. “The timing would have been the same and her outcome would have been the same.”

Kamykowski said that delayed diagnosis cases can be more difficult for a plaintiff to win than matters in which a surgical mistake is alleged.

“The plaintiff was extremely sympathetic. She made about as good a witness as a plaintiff as I’ve seen in my career,” she said. “But I think our physician presented equally as well. I thought he did a really good job of explaining his medical decision making.”

Kamykowski said the plaintiff requested $3.6 million in damages. According to court records, the defendant waived its right to recover costs in exchange for the plaintiff’s waiver of an appeal.

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Medical malpractice

Venue: Jasper County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 20AO-CC00117-01/July 18, 2022

Judge: Gayle Crane

Plaintiff’s Experts: Lawrence Linett, Wrightsville Beach, North Caroina (emergency medicine); Nancy Epstein, Mineola, New York (neurosurgery); John Schaefer, Paterson, New Jersey (infectious disease); Tanya Owen, Fayetteville, Arkansas (life care planning); William Rogers, Prairie Village, Kansas (economics)

Defendants’ Experts: Daniel Davis, San Diego, California (emergency medicine)

Caption: Lori Marshall v. Gateway Emergency Physicians LLP

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Roger Johnson and Scott Vorhees, Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci, Joplin

Defendant’s Attorneys: Mandy Kamykowski and Erin Pfirrman, Kamykowski & Taylor, St. Louis