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A doctor and a nurse were separated from Bedford County Medical Center as defendants in a medical malpractice case that's sought at least $2.5 million over the death of a man who sought treatment at the hospital's emergency room.
The ruling came Thursday from Bedford County Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell in the case brought by the widow and children of Samuel Harrison Butcher III, who died on Sept. 4, 2004, three days before his 29th birthday, according to the complaint filed by the plaintiffs' attorney, Russell Thomas of Murfreesboro.

Named in the original complaint as defendants are Dr. Kent Clark, a nurse named only as L. Brashier in the complaint, the hospital, and Quorum Health Resources LLC which was the hospital's management service hired by Bedford County before the facility was sold in July 2005.

All defendants have denied wrong-doing, indicating they worked to provide good health care and their attorneys have stated that a jury trial would prove to be successful for their clients.

The latest development in the case was on a request from the hospital's attorneys who pointed out that doctors and, in this case, nurses are technically independent contractors who work at the facilities available at the hospital.

There was no opposition to the request from attorneys representing the hospital which is now owned by Community Health Services, a hospital holding and management business headquartered in Williamson County.

Russell's ruling eliminates what's called "vicarious responsibility" by the hospital, but other defendants can be added to cases as evidence is gathered during depositions and other aspects of the discovery process prior to trial.

In the original complaint, Thomas outlined the chain of events which led Butcher to the hospital and what's claimed to be the cause of his death.

Butcher was involved in a one-vehicle crash in which a truck overturned, Thomas wrote in the complaint. While medical treatment was not sought the day of the crash, a Sunday, Butcher went to the emergency room on the next Thursday. Having presented himself with a history of smoking and high blood pressure and after a motor vehicle accident, Butcher was seen subsequent to decisions made at the emergency room based on triage assessments of patients.

That was on Sept. 2, 2004 when Butcher was discharged to see his family physician. But a heart specialist was not mentioned, according to the complaint that alleges a breach of a standard of medical care that might be expected at a rural county hospital.

Butcher continued to experience pain and died two days later, according to the complaint in the case file.

Tracy Lynn Butcher is the widow of the man for whom wrongful death is alleged. Mrs. Butcher has two children; Chase Butcher, 4, and Samantha Butcher, 10.


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