Family Awarded Millions in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit From Horry County
Every single day in the United States, we put our trust in licensed practitioners. We trust physicians, surgeons, optometrists, dentists, and a variety of other professionals to keep our physical and mental health afloat.
Unfortunately, some physicians (or their employers) fail to protect patients from harm. Such was the case with Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services, LLC.
Around 1:30 a.m. on October 3, 2015, 26-year-old Matthew Scheer was hearing voices. Scheer was suffering from a sudden onset of mental illness described by family attorney Brink Hinson as “psychosis.”
Scheer had been driven by his father to Grand Strand Medical Center around 4 p.m. on October 2. Dr. Nirlep Patel was named his attending physician, and a psychiatric consultation was ordered. This consultation never took place.
Late that night, Scheer’s father left the hospital to get toiletries, clothes, and some sleep. Early the next morning, Scheer had an outburst in which he yelled and screamed at hospital staff — expressing a desire to leave. Outside, a hurricane had reached Horry County.
Regardless, Dr. Rachel Ash-Bernal allowed Scheer to leave after signing discharge instructions that stated he was leaving “against medical advice.” She did not contact his father because she did not believe HIPAA rules allowed it.
Thirty minutes after his release, Scheer drowned himself in the Atlantic Ocean. In response, his family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Ash-Bernal, Patel, Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services, and Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
In their lawsuit, the family claimed Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services — the employer of both Patel and Ash-Bernal — had failed to property train their employees about exceptions involving patient safety.
After a five-day trial in June 2019, a jury in Horry County returned a verdict finding Southern Myrtle Inpatient Service 100 percent at-fault for the death of Matthew Scheer. They did not, however, find legal responsibility for Ash-Bernal or Patel.
Prior to the trial, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center reached a $600,000 settlement with the Scheer family. Including this settlement, the Scheer family was awarded a total of $3,500,000 in actual damages — the largest medical malpractice verdict in Horry County recent history.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice can be illustrated in a number of ways. Most often, it’s considered a violation of the standard of care. There are certain medical standards that are recognized across the profession as acceptable medical treatment — and all patients have a right to expect that standard of care.
For example, a case could be made for medical malpractice if a physician fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a medical condition, makes a surgical error, performs unnecessary surgery, misreads or ignores lab results, fails to recognize symptoms, fails to order proper testing, or prematurely discharges a patient.
To pursue a malpractice claim, the plaintiff must prove the standard of care wasn’t met and resulted in significant damages — including disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering and hardship, or past and future medical bills.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered harm due to medical malpractice, don’t wait to take action. The sooner you build your case, the easier it will be to hold the responsible party accountable. For professional and experienced assistance, contact The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union at (803)-324-7200.