Bibb jury awards $1.1M in wrongful death case

A Bibb County jury awarded more than $1.1 million Thursday in a wrongful death lawsuit that alleged a Macon nursing home provided poor care to a stroke victim and caused his death.

James Davis, 62, of Hartwell, died in 2002 from an infection in his leg, his sons' lawyer, Tom Edwards, said.

Edwards said a series of lapses in care at North Macon Health Care, including several preventable falls, led to Davis' death in September 2002. Testimony during the trial showed that employees of the health-care facility complained that the facility was understaffed, Edwards said.

UHS-Pruitt Corp., the parent company of North Macon Health Care, released a statement by e-mail after Thursday's verdict.

"Both UHS-Pruitt Corporation and North Macon Health Care believe that the center is and has been adequately staffed and that its patients receive care appropriate to their circumstances," the e-mail stated. "However, both parties respect the privacy and dignity of all our patients and their families and, furthermore, are not allowed under federal law to disclose information about the care they receive or specific medical and health-related conditions."

Davis broke his leg in one fall in 2002 and the injury wasn't diagnosed for a week, Edwards said. Another fall in June 2002 opened the wound from the surgery and a lack of follow-up care led to an infection from feces and urine, Edwards said. Davis was removed from the home after the infection, Edwards said. Complications from that infection led to Davis' death, he said.

"If they had provided some basic level of supervision and care, these falls would not have happened," Edwards said.

Davis was taken to North Macon Health Care in August 2001 based on the recommendation of doctors, Edwards said. Davis, who couldn't speak because of a stroke in 1998, previously had been cared for at home by professionals and family members, Edwards said.

North Macon Health Care was one of the few facilities that would accept someone in Davis' condition, Edwards said.