Dead woman’s family sues Atrium/Premier, says she wasn’t seen by doctor

The family of Theresa Johnson alleged in a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit that she never saw a doctor when she went twice to Middletown’s Atrium Medical Center’s emergency room before dying a short time after.

In the lawsuit, James Johnson said that on May 9, 2015, his wife entered the emergency room with a fever of 102.2 degrees. Two days later, the 50-year-old died from complications of sepsis, which is a complication of an infection.

The amended complaint, recently re-filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, said she was first seen by a physician’s assistant who allegedly failed to diagnose or treat a urinary tract infection. The complaint said Theresa Johnson was wrongfully discharged at 7 a.m., less than three hours after arriving, while still vomiting and despite several lab tests that returned abnormal results.

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When she returned to Atrium at 3:57 p.m. May 10, 2015, Theresa Johnson had an abnormally high heart rate, high blood pressure and was seen by a different physician’s assistant, according to the complaint. She was admitted to the hospital that night. She died the next day.

James Johnson’s attorneys, Dwight Brannon and Michael Wright, said in a joint statement: “Our concern is that there are others going to Premier hospital emergency rooms and not getting the opportunity to see a doctor, but only a physician assistant, and then having to return for adequate treatment, or worse as in Mrs. Johnson’s case, having a tragic outcome because of the delay in diagnosis and treatment.”

In court filings, attorney Neil Freund, who represents Premier and Atrium, accused the plaintiffs of “forum shopping” because the suit was filed in Montgomery County instead of Warren County. However, a judge has ruled the venue was proper.

Freund said Friday that the defendants denied the allegations in the answer filed in court.

“The case is in its early stages,” Freund said. “We deny the substance of the complaint.”

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The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages both in excess of $25,000, funeral expenses of $1,523, attorney fees, court costs and “mandatory sanctions against the Defendants prohibiting the Defendants’ fraudulent and prohibited practice of medicine in the emergency room.”

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