A former patient of Singing River Health System and popular neurologist Dr. Terry Millette will have her day in court after all.
Special Judge James Bell had dismissed a lawsuit attorneys for Debra Green filed in May 2018 against SRHS and Millette over her misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Bell issued the ruling after SRHS argued the one-year statue of limitations to file a claim had run out when she filed a notice of her intent to sue in January 2018
In November, the state Court of Appeals reversed the ruling and sent the case back to Jackson County Circuit Court for trial.
“Green’s injury was the misdiagnosis of her condition which she could not reasonably have known about until another physician told her in May 2017,” the higher court said its ruling. “Reasonable minds could not differ on this conclusion because it is undisputed that Green only learned of her misdiagnosis injury in May 2017.”
As a result, Green had until May 2018 to sue SRHS and Millette.
SRHS had argued the statue of limitations to file a claim began in November 2016 when a letter was sent to Millette’s patients to let them know questions had come up about his diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis patients and that he was no longer affiliated with SRHS.
However, the letter did not tell the patients whether they had been misdiagnosed with the disease.
“We are happy that the Green case can proceed to trial and we can get to the truth of the matter,” Green’s attorney, Tim Holleman, said Monday. “SRHS claimed the letter was notice to the world and the people that got the letter that certainly they had a claim. That was always wrong in our opinion.”
In addition, Holleman said, SRHS instructed patients to call a hotline with questions, all of which resulted in the same scripted answers.
Millette was in private practice with hospital privileges at SRHS when the health system hired him in 2011.
His hiring came despite objections from three SRHS neurologists — Lennon Bowen, Christoper Karcher and William Evans — to refrain from hiring Millette because he was misdiagnosing patients with multiple sclerosis and “a multitude of other diagnoses,” according to Bowen’s July 12 deposition.
Prior to SRHS hiring Millette in 2011, the doctors had been complaining about Millette’s “inappropriate diagnoses.”
The three neurologists put their concerns in writing in a letter to top hospital brass in May 2016.
Their complaints included that Millette was misdiagnosing patients with other diseases, most of which required infusion treatments and therapies, according to Bowen.
Holleman said he expects two other case he is handling involving Millette to be reversed and sent back to the lower court over the question about the statue of limitations for filing the claims.
Green’s suit is among more than 15 filed against SRHS and Millette over the misdiagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis patients.
“There are probably a number of people out there that called a lawyer and the court ruled that the letter put them on notice, and, therefore, the statue of limitations had run out,” Holleman said.
“The letter was terribly misleading, and not just the letter, they had a script prepared for when somebody called the hospital,” he said.
For example, Holleman said, a patient who asked, “Does this mean that I don’t have MS?,” they were told, “Only a physician can make a determination about your health.”
If a patient asked if they needed an attorney when they called the SRHS hotline set up for Millette’s patients, the standard response was, “I am not in a position to offer that kind of advice as our first priority is your health and well being. We have a number of options for a new doctor, either here at our clinic or with other providers in the region.”