The success of medical professionals in state and national politics has given these health care providers a more prominent role in lawmaking. When these same providers are the subject of malpractice suits, the intensity of reporting may be similarly elevated.
This scenario is playing out in Alabama’s Franklin County, where Larry Stutts, an obstetrician-gynecologist who was elected last year as state senator in Alabama’s Sixth District, was sued for medical malpractice. A patient who was in the care of Dr. Stutts in 2013 sued him and Gentiva Health Services, an Atlanta-based provider of home health care operated as a subsidiary of Kindred Healthcare. Gentiva is the largest provider of home health care in the United States.
The suit alleges that when the plaintiff was pregnant, the physician induced labor, but the woman sustained a retained placenta with postpartum hemorrhage and a subsequent MRSA infection. A regimen of gentamicin and cefotan was prescribed to be administered intravenously by Gentiva staff at the patient’s home. The suit also claims that instead of trained nursing staff administering the medication, Gentiva personnel instructed the patient’s husband in techniques needed to administer the two drugs and then failed to properly test her gentamicin levels. The result, according to the filing, was “severe pain and mental anguish” and permanent injury to the patient.
An unrelated malpractice case has been highlighted by media covering this suit. The physician-lawmaker had earlier this year sought to repeal an Alabama law dubbed “Rosie’s Law” for Rose Church, a woman who gave birth to a healthy baby in 1998 and was released from the hospital 36 hours later. After experiencing internal bleeding, she returned to the hospital a day and a half later to receive four pints of blood. She was again discharged but died a day later. The law that bears her name gave Alabama women the legal right to remain hospitalized for at least two days after giving birth. Her physician was the same Dr. Stutts.
Dr. Stutts settled the Rose Church case out of court. He also withdrew his bill to repeal “Rosie’s Law” a day after submitting it. Meanwhile, the current malpractice suit requests unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.