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Jamison v. Hilton

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

July 15, 2015

Samantha Jamison, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jayden Joenelle Jamison-Barber, Deceased, Respondent,
v.
Ansley L. Hilton, M.D., individually and as Agent, Servant or Employee of Rock Hill Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates, P.A.; Christopher B. Benson, M.D., as Agent, Servant or Employee of Rock Hill Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates, P.A., and Rock Hill Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates, P.A., Defendants, of whom Rock Hill Gynecological and Obstetrical Associates, PA, is the Appellant

Heard April 14, 2015.

Appeal From York County. Steven H. John, Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-001711.

Thomas C. Salane and R. Hawthorne Barrett, both of Turner Padget Graham & Laney, PA, of Columbia, for Appellant.

James W. Boyd, of James W. Boyd, Attorney, and David Bradley Jordan, of Jordan & Dunn, LLC, both of Rock Hill, for Respondent.

LOCKEMY, J. SHORT and McDONALD, JJ., concur.

OPINION

LOCKEMY, J.

In this medical malpractice action, Rock Hill Gynological and Obstetrical Associates, PA, (the Practice) argues the trial court erred in denying its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict as to Samantha Jamison's allegations of negligence in the death of her son, Jayden. We affirm.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Practice assumed the pre-natal care of Samantha Jamison a little over halfway through her pregnancy in July 2008. Jamison came to the Practice with pregnancy risks due to her chronic hypertension.

On August 9, 2008, Jamison went to the emergency room complaining of lower abdominal pain. Dr. Gregory Miller, a physician with the Practice, attended to Jamison at the hospital. After noting Jamison's elevated blood pressure, Dr. Miller conducted a series of tests that ruled out preterm labor. Lab results, including blood work and a urinalysis, revealed no medical grounds for intervention or immediate treatment. Dr. Miller discharged Jamison and told her to keep her next scheduled office visit at the Practice.

Jamison returned to the Practice for a checkup on August 25, 2008, and again saw Dr. Miller. Jamison's only complaint that day was of swelling in her left ankle. Based on an examination and the results of tests he conducted, Dr. Miller found no complications or dangers with Jamison's pregnancy. Dr. Miller did not order a non-stress test. Jamison had no complaints of decreased fetal movement when she saw Dr. Miller on August 25, 2008. Dr. Miller nevertheless instructed Jamison to start doing " kick counts" to monitor the timing and frequency of her baby's movement.

On the morning of September 5, 2008, Jamison became concerned about feeling the baby move less frequently and went to the Practice. Jamison arrived at the office around 8:40 a.m. and waited approximately one hour to be seen. The first available professional was nurse practitioner Robin Pruitt, who examined Jamison. The examination included taking Jamison's blood pressure and checking the fetal heartbeat. Based on the results of the examination, Pruitt ordered a non-stress test. The non-stress test began around 10 a.m. and took roughly thirty minutes.

After the non-stress test, the nurses told Jamison they were going to do a biophysical profile, which would evaluate the baby's movement, among other things. A sonographer performed that test in the office. The biophysical profile ran for approximately ten minutes, during which time the baby had a normal heart rate. After the ten minutes had elapsed, Dr. Ansley Hilton looked over the preliminary results. Dr. Hilton determined the baby was in a breach presentation and was not moving as much as a 32-week old fetus normally would be expected to move. Dr. Hilton then stopped the test around 11 a.m. because she wanted to send Jamison to the hospital in case any emergency treatment was necessary. Dr. Hilton instructed Jamison to go straight to the labor and delivery section of the hospital, which was approximately five minutes away from the office. Before releasing Jamison, Dr. Hilton confirmed that Jamison had transportation to the hospital and knew how to get to labor and delivery. Dr. Hilton then called labor and delivery to explain the situation and inform them that Jamison would be arriving soon. During her phone call to the hospital, Dr. Hilton also discussed Jamison's case with Dr. Christopher Benson, another physician with the Practice who was on call at the hospital that morning. After that conversation, Dr. Benson got everything ready at the hospital for an emergency cesarean section (c-section) in case one had to be performed.

According to Jamison, the admissions process at the hospital, which did not involve any of the Practice's employees, took around thirty minutes. A hospital employee then took Jamison to a room where other hospital staff members examined her. The nurses involved in that examination called Dr. Benson to notify him that Jamison had arrived, but that they could not find a fetal heartbeat. Dr. Benson got to the room within two minutes of receiving the call and performed an ultrasound. He was also unable to find a fetal heartbeat, and he informed Jamison that the baby was deceased. Later that day, a C-section was performed. No cause of death has been determined.

Jamison filed a summons and complaint in 2011, listing the following defendants: (1) Dr. Hilton, (2) Dr. Benson, and (3) the Practice. The complaint alleged Drs. Hilton and/or Benson committed malpractice that led to the pre-delivery death of Jamison's son, Jayden. All of ...


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