Documentation: Physician’s Progress Notes Raised Issues of Credibility, Jury Awards More than $4M

September 6, 2017 | Risk Management News

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​A Georgia court of appeals upheld a jury verdict against an obstetrician and his professional practice group, ruling that the jury could reasonably decide that the defendant's progress notes involved deliberate deception rather than simply a mistake. In so ruling, the court upheld a trial court's discretionary authority to allow the plaintiffs' attorney to cross-examine the physician regarding the notes, for purposes of probing his character for untruthfulness.

The plaintiffs sued two obstetricians and their professional association, seeking damages resulting from the death of their newborn premature child. The jury awarded over $4 million, apportioning 50% of the fault to the on-call defendant obstetrician and his group and 50% to another defendant physician, not a party to this appeal. The jury found that the on-call obstetrician was negligent in failing to come to the hospital emergency department (ED) and properly diagnose and treat the patient. A proper diagnosis, the plaintiffs alleged, would have required performance of a cerclage, a surgical procedure in which the cervix is sewn closed during pregnancy, or administration of progesterone to prevent preterm delivery. The plaintiffs argued that if the on-call obstetrician had taken these steps,...

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