Woman sues health care providers

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  An Elizabethton woman is seeking damages from four individuals and three medical organizations alleging medical malpractice involving the diagnosis and treatment for a leg injury she suffered in August 2003.
  Filed last week in Carter County Circuit Court, the lawsuit of plaintiffs Adeline Beckelhimer Keene and her son Steve Keene, both of Elizabethton, seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages from seven defendants. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Aylitta T. Collins, a registered nurse; physicians Michael Bess, Charles B. Herrin, and Michael C. Barwick, as well as Housecall Home Health, Emergency Care Physicians, and Sycamore Shoals Hospital (SSH) of the Mountain States Health Alliance system.
  The complaint states that Adeline Keene, a resident of the Life Care Center of Elizabethton, suffered a fall on Aug. 14, 2003 while getting into her car, resulting in an injury to her lower right leg. When she reported the accident to a Housecall nurse identified as Collins who was providing care for another medical condition, Keene was told she had probably suffered a severe sprain, according to the lawsuit. Her condition did not improve in the following days.
  On Aug. 23, 2003, the lawsuit states that Adeline Keene was taken to Sycamore Shoals Hospital where her care physician, identified as Bess, ordered x-rays that found she had suffered a fracture of the fibula bone. Her leg was placed in a cast and she was later referred to an orthopedic doctor identified in the lawsuit as Barwick. One week later, she was diagnosed with a pressure ulcer near her right ankle after a home health aide with Housecall noticed blood streaming from her cast.
  Adeline Keene was later admitted to SSH for evaluation. The lawsuit states she developed a "staph" infection while a patient at the hospital and underwent surgical placement of a catheter to administer antibiotics on Sept. 11, 2003.
  The complaint further states that Adeline Keene met with Barwick who advised the injury did not require surgery and recommended "fracture bracing" when the wound healed. He further advised her to begin walking on the ankle using a walker or other support as soon as possible, according to the complaint.
   She was later discharged to the Pine Ridge Nursing Center with continuing treatment of the infection. Pine Ridge representatives performed another X-ray that revealed a fracture to the fibula and a fracture of her tibia bone. On Sept. 23, 2004, Adeline Keene was admitted to SSH with symptoms associated with congestive heart failure, according to the complaint. She was later evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon who confirmed the diagnosis of an open right ankle fracture. The orthopedic surgeon performed an "open reduction internal fixation" operation on Adeline Keene's right leg in October 2003, according to the complaint.
  The lawsuit alleges negligence against all seven defendants in the treatment and diagnosis of Adeline Keene regarding her injury. The complaint contends that she has suffered severe injuries, great "pain of body and mind", as well as permanent injury and deformity due to the alleged negligence.
  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs' by attorney Myers Massengill of Bristol and Attorney of Counsel, B.L. Conway, of Abingdon, Va.