The family of a 35-year-old Corsicana woman alleges in a wrongful death lawsuit that officials at the former Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center administered lethal doses of pain medication after she was hospitalized for lower back pain three years ago.
Daniel Gann, a former chaplain at the Waco hospital, and his two minor children are seeking more than $1 million in their lawsuit against Scott & White Memorial Hospital, doing business as Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center.
The lawsuit was filed before the hospital partnered with Baylor to become Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center.
Stan Thiebaud, a Dallas attorney who represents the hospital, did not return phone messages to his office Wednesday. Scott Clark, a hospital spokesman, said he could not discuss pending litigation.
The suit originally was filed in Bell County in September 2013.
But hospital officials moved it to McLennan County, where it was filed this week in Waco’s 74th State District Court. The suit also names nurse Natisha Chanyta Brigham as a defendant and initially also named Dr. Celia Beth Servin as a defendant.
Austin attorney Todd Kelly, who represents the Gann family, said a judge in Bell County dismissed Servin from the lawsuit on her contention that Servin, a first-year family practice resident at the time, was a government employee and immune from liability.
“Cases of medical negligence are important because when medical negligence is pointed out and litigation ensues, it tends to enhance the quality of medical care that doctors and medical professionals provide in the future,” Kelly said.
Sarah Gann was admitted to Hillcrest on Oct. 5, 2011, complaining of back pain that she described as similar to a kidney stone, according to the lawsuit.
Servin examined Gann, anticipating discharge the following morning. The next day, about 6 p.m., Gann still was suffering from pain, nausea and dizziness, the suit says, adding that six hours later, records show her pain level at 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Brigham’s notes indicate no pain by Gann at the same time that Servin noted “10/10,” the suit alleges.
Servin ordered Gann to be given morphine every four hours as needed.
“Nurse Brigham continues to chart only sporadically — and not very clearly. The charting is insufficient to communicate the continuing worsening state of her patient, Sarah, or the excessive quantities of narcotic medications she had been given,” the suit alleges. “She doesn’t bother to even chart the types of medications she administers — or the times when she does it.”
About 1 a.m. Oct. 6, Brigham asked Servin for an order for Gann’s nausea and Servin prescribed Phenergran, the suit claims. Thirty minutes later, Servin changed the pain medication from morphine to Dilaudid.
At 6:53 a.m. the next day, Gann was discovered with no pulse and not breathing, the suit alleges. A “Code Blue” was sounded and she was given Narcan, which the suit says is a drug used almost exclusively for severe narcotic depression and to reverse respiratory compromise from a narcotic-induced depression.
Gann was placed on a mechanical ventilator and never regained consciousness, according to the allegations.
“Daniel (Gann), an ordained minister who actually ministered to defendant’s patients, is left with the emotionally devastating task of terminating life support and ending the life of his wife,” the suit states.