A jury awarded $1 million to a York man who claimed his wife died after receiving improper treatment at Piedmont Medical Center's emergency room.
After a weeklong trial in York County last week, a jury ordered Dr. John Lee and South Carolina Emergency Physicians, Lee's employer, to pay $1 million in actual damages.
Sidney Kirksey took his 51-year-old wife, Deborah, to the Rock Hill hospital's emergency room June 1, 2008, with pain in her side, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
She was examined by Lee at PMC and sent home with some pain and other medications, said Kirksey's attorney, Chad McGowan.
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Deborah Kirksey returned to the emergency room the following day in immense pain, and she was admitted to the hospital, according to a lawsuit filed in York County in 2009.
She died June 3, 2008, in the hospital from a problem with a bowel movement that was evident when she went to the emergency room two days earlier, McGowan said.
The lawsuit alleged she would have survived and recovered if a doctor had examined and treated her properly on June 1.
"I'm not educated. I trusted in the doctors to help her," Sidney Kirksey said. "It's a hard, painful thing to do. To take your wife of 27 years to the hospital complaining her side hurt, and a few days later you're burying her."
"During the trial, Dr. Lee admitted to not looking at her vital signs June 1," McGowan said.
"There's little doubt she would have lived. It boiled down to a doctor didn't look at the chart for a vital sign. Had she been kept in the hospital on fluids, she would have lived."
Deborah Kirksey's gall bladder was twice its normal size when she was sent home from the hospital, he said.
Sidney Kirksey said he sued because he couldn't get anyone to answer questions about his wife's death.
"I asked questions. No one gave me answers. I just don't want this to happen to anyone else," he said. "I hope no one has to go through the pain and agony I did."
Although he's satisfied with the trial's outcome, Sidney Kirksey said, it's not going to bring back his wife.
"It's still hard to believe," he said. "I loved her dearly. I keep thinking that I'll get a phone call and she'll want me to come get her."
Lee is still practicing medicine at Piedmont Medical Center, McGowan said.
The hospital has no comment on the case, said Katie Norwood, manager of marketing and public relations for PMC.
Neither Lee's attorney, Ashby Davis of Greenville, nor Lee could be reached for comment.