South Charleston doctor charged in wrongful death suit

By John O'Brien | Mar 1, 2006

CHARLESTON - The death of a Kanawha County man has resulted in a South Charleston doctor being accused in a wrongful death suit.

CHARLESTON - The death of a Kanawha County man has resulted in a South Charleston doctor being accused in a wrongful death suit.

Melissa Hudnall, administratrix of the estate of James Hudnall, has named Michael S. DeWitt, who practices medicine at the Beverly Health Care Center in Glasgow, in a lawsuit filed February 8 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

James Hudnall's Dec. 8, 2001, death due to sepsis and gangrene could have been avoided, according to Melissa Hudnall.

She now is demanding an amount adequate to compensate her for the losses and damages sustained.

"The defendant's negligent actions and failure to act as hereinbefore alleged was a substantial proximate cause of the rapid medical decline, unnecessary suffering, and the premature death of the plaintiff's decedent, James Hudnall," the suit states.

James Hudnall was admitted to the Beverly Health Care Center on Sept. 17, 2001, and made known his history of coronary atherosclerosis, carotid occlusioin without cerebral infaction and stroke, Melissa Hudnall says. She adds that it was further indicated that he had hyperlipidemia, spinal stenosis with sciatica, ischemic heart disease, urinary incontinence, diabetic neuropathy, diabetes mellitus type 2, neurogenic bladder and incontinence of feces and dementia.

DeWitt's observation noted that his skin was clear, though, except for a mild redness of the heel and abrasions of the foot, the complaint says.

It also states that DeWitt failed to set up a treatment plan for the condition, specifically for treatment of his heel and foot. Eventually, it says, the condition worsened and developed into gangrene.

On Oct. 2, 2001, DeWitt noted faint pulses, discoloration and cellulites, according to Melissa Hudnall. She adds that a Doppler was ordered which revealed moderate to severe peripheral vascular disease.

"However, due to the defendant's negligence, Mr. Hudnall's condition was neither promptly nor appropriately treated," the complaint says.

On Dec. 8, 2001, James Hudnall passed away due to sepsis and gangrene.

Melissa Hudnall, who is represented by John R. Mitchell, seeks a compensatory amount to be determined by a jury that will consider her: "Sorrow, mental anguish and solace; loss of companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the decedent; great and substantial financial loss by reason of the death of James Hudnall and the services, protective care and assistant provided by said decedent; expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of the decedent prior to his injury and death; and reasonable funeral expenses."

Circuit Judge Irene Berger has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-235

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