ANDERSON – A Madison Circuit Court Division 3 jury has awarded a former Lapel resident $2.5 million in a civil lawsuit filed against St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital.

On Friday, Bill Owens was awarded the $2.5 million for injuries suffered in a fall while being treated at the Carl Erskine Rehabilitation Center in October 2011.

The jurors determined that St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital failed to use any safe fall prevention techniques and failed to communicate between physical therapists that Owens was a high risk for falls. The jury found the hospital was negligent because it provided care that was below the appropriate standard and the failure to act resulted in Owens' injuries.

The original complaint filed by Owens' attorney showed that the Medical Review Process in 2015 was of the opinion that the allegations didn’t support that the hospital failed to provide the standard of care.

Erika Sylvester, the attorney for St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

In February 2011, Owens suffered a mild stroke and received inpatient rehabilitation therapy and was eventually sent home, where it was determined that in-home therapy was not satisfactory and he was referred to Erskine.

In October, the hospital staff found Owens had balance issues and was high risk for falls and was using a walker.

He informed the physical therapist on Oct. 19, 2011, that he suffered two falls and the notation was that Owens was more shaky and weaker.

During a visit the next day, Owens was asked to follow a therapist from the waiting room to the therapy area and no gait belt was utilized.

Owens fell, striking his head, and was transferred to the hospital where a CT scan indicated an acute subdural hematoma. He was transferred to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.

The complaint states Owens is now living in a nursing home in Noblesville for permanent injuries including he can’t stand, needs assistance while sitting, no short-term memory and requires assistance to use the bathroom.

In its response, St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital denied all the allegations.

“The Medical Review Panel speaks for itself,” the hospital’s response stated.

​Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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