North Alabama senator sued for medical malpractice

Published: Jun. 12, 2015 at 3:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2015 at 3:11 PM CDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - An Alabama state senator is being sued for medical malpractice by a Shoals woman he treated in 2013.

Court documents filed Friday in Franklin County circuit court indicate that Dr. Larry Stutts, the senator for Alabama's sixth district, was caring for the woman when her labor was induced in July 2013. Delivery complications led to a MRSA infection, and she was placed on a treatment regimen.

According to the documents, Stutts ordered an IV tube (a PICC line) be placed in the woman so Gentiva Health Services could administer drugs after she went home. Stutts prescribed two antibiotics, Gentamicin and Cefotan, and ordered the home health company, based in Russellville, to administer them.

Gentiva Health Services, which is also named in the lawsuit, allegedly taught the patient's husband how to administer the antibiotics and had him do it, rather than a skilled nurse, as originally ordered by Stutts.

The lawsuit goes on to say that no testing for Gentamicin levels was ever performed for the woman the entire time Gentiva was involved in her home care. As a result, the lawsuit alleges she suffered from Gentamicin toxicity, which caused her to suffer "severe pain and mental anguish" and required extensive medical evaluation and treatment. The lawsuit also says the woman was permanently injured and damaged.

Documents say that Stutts "negligently caused or negligently allowed" Gentiva to not be ordered or instructed to properly administer the antibiotic treatment by skilled nurses only. The lawsuit also states that Stutts didn't ensure that testing for safe Gentamicin levels was done. This lack of testing, the lawsuit says, caused the woman's injuries and damage.

Stutts was elected to the Alabama state senate in November 2014. He proposed a maternity stay bill in March 2015. Senate Bill 289 would repeal a code that says insurance must cover a minimum stay of 48 hours in the hospital after a woman gives birth (96 hours for cesarean births). The bill was later withdrawn by Stutts.

One of the laws Stutts was pushing to repeal was named for a patient, Rose Church, who died in his care. Court records indicate Stutts as the doctor in a wrongful death suit filed by the woman's husband. That suit was ultimately settled out of court.

After her death, her husband, Gene Church, pushed for a new law which came to be called "Rose's Law."

The current law creates shared responsibility for the patient and doctor if the new mother wishes to be released early. This means the doctor must inform the woman of advantages and disadvantages of an early discharge.

We have reached out to Senator Stutts' office for comment.

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