County official’s widow files suit against hospital

By Joe Beck

The widow of the late Warren County commissioner of revenue is suing Winchester Medical Center for $5 million, accusing the hospital of medical malpractice in the death of her husband on Aug. 25.

Doris Smedley, administrator of the estate of John H. Smedley, filed the suit Friday in Winchester Circuit Court.

The suit argues that Smedley’s death less than 12 hours after a heart operation was caused by the failure of a registered nurse, Tammy Madigan, and unidentified doctors, nurses and other hospital staff to perform certain tasks properly after the surgery.

Those tasks include assessment of Smedley’s condition; initiating medical or nursing actions in response to what the suit calls Smedley’s “declining” condition; timely and appropriate responses to Smedley’s signs and symptoms and appropriate interpretation of test results or other information.

Madigan and others also failed to notify the attending doctor of “significant clinical signs and symptoms” shown by Smedley, according to the complaint.

A spokeswoman for Valley Health Systems had little to say about the lawsuit.

“Valley Health’s policy is not to comment on legal action,” said Carol Weare, public relations manager.

The lawsuit states that Smedley, 64, was admitted to the hospital’s emergency room at 10:54 a.m. Aug. 20 complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath.

The diagnosis was unstable angina, according to the lawsuit.

A doctor recommended the next day that Smedley undergo heart surgery and the operation was performed two days later, according to the complaint.

Doris Smedley’s attorneys in the suit are Amy S. Gurgle of Washington, D.C., and David Silek, who practices in Front Royal and Manassas.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com