Doctor cleared of malpractice

  • Follow Metro

A jury found Wednesday that an Augusta surgeon wasn't negligent in treating a woman who later died of breast cancer.

At the end of a two-week trial in Richmond County State Court, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Lynn Tucker, a defendant in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Ernest Gough.

Mr. Gough is the widower of Christine Gough, who died May 13, 2004. The mother of three was 34 years old.

Dr. Frank Carter was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He settled for an undisclosed amount just before the trial began.

In closing arguments Wednesday, Dr. Tucker's attorney Carlton Joyce told the jury that after an initial office visit Mrs. Gough was supposed to come back in a month but she didn't. She didn't return until late 2003, when Dr. Tucker immediately began treatment.

Continuing the defense argument, attorney Frank Seiler told the jury that as a nurse, Mrs. Gough should have known that her symptoms and family history were important information that Dr. Tucker needed. But Mrs. Gough didn't tell the doctor, Mr. Seiler said.

Maybe Mrs. Gough didn't want to hear a diagnosis of cancer or undergo treatment because she was pregnant in 2002, Mr. Seiler said.

The plaintiff's attorney David Sumner countered to the jury that Mrs. Gough thought the doctor's explanation that her symptoms could be caused by blocked ducts was correct and reasonable.

If Dr. Tucker had done a biopsy as the radiologist recommended, the cancer would have been diagnosed a year earlier, Mr. Sumner argued.

Dr. Tucker's attorneys argued she might have decided a biopsy was warranted if Mrs. Gough had returned to the doctor's office sooner.

Mr. Joyce told the jury it couldn't base its decision on hindsight. Sometimes things don't turn out the way a doctor and patient hope, he said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (55) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 03/27/08 - 07:16 am
0
0
Always seek a second opinion

Always seek a second opinion when the diagnosis or treatment is possibly life threatening or extensive. A nurse would know this.

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 03/27/08 - 07:45 am
0
0
We are all responsible for

We are all responsible for our own care. The level of knowledge that a nurse should have or have access to should have prevented this horrible end.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/27/08 - 07:58 am
0
0
My sympathies to the family,

My sympathies to the family, but this is a ridiculous and unwarranted lawsuit. It is no wonder she was cleared.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 03/27/08 - 08:10 am
0
0
She being a healthcare

She being a healthcare professional, I find it shocking that Mrs. Gough did not tell her Physician everything about her symptoms and family history. I'm not a Nurse, but freely spill my guts to my Doc, every time I have an illness. And lastly, the issue with follow-up -- she should have known better. I'm sorry for Mr. Gough's loss, and that of their children. We have to be fully involved, and committed to our wellness. I think the correct judgement was made.

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 03/27/08 - 10:26 am
0
0
I can tell all of you that
Unpublished

I can tell all of you that Chris Gough was told she only had clogged milk ducts related to her pregnancy. She went to the doctor that day expecting a biopsy. She made arrangements to have a biopsy. So when her doctor told her that her lump was now smaller and that this just looked like dialated ducts and that there would be complications with breast feeding if the biopsy was performed..she left the doctors office reassured that her condition was pregnacy related. She did not discover the radiologist report, sent to the doctor prior to that visit, which stipulated that this mass was NOT a simple cyst and that a biopsy was recomended until weeks before her death. A biopsy was suggested three times in that report. What Christine was guilty of was trusting her doctor. She was pregant at the time so she followed up with her OB/GYN who then diagnosed her with mastitis. The cancer was discovered to late to help her and even then they misdiagnosed the cancer which in turn led to improper treatment of the cancer. So, here you all go jumping off with your arm chair assesments without knowing the facts. Doctors are not the gods you all think. Sometimes doctors lie and alter the truth.

IMOinNA
0
Points
IMOinNA 03/27/08 - 10:44 am
0
0
Obviously there was some kind

Obviously there was some kind of miss information or neglect or the other doctor wouldn't have decided to settle. I firmly believe that the doctor's nor the insurance companies do not attempt to settle unless they see they have a good chance of loosing, they seem to see that as opening a door to other lawsuits. They settled because they knew something had been done wrong. Also with something as serious as cancer I feel the doctor had not only a burden to contact the patient further but an obligation. As I cancer survivor myself I can't see my doctor letting something like this go. I do see where some of America has become "sue happy" but that shouldn't have any influence on a case that has merit. Now this man is left to without his mate and his children without their mother. I don't think the biggest issue is money but more so that a doctor has a moral and ethical obligation to follow up with a patient that needs to be tested further. Would it have been to much to ask of the doctor or the staff to follow up aggressively after seeing the results that said three times a biopsy was needed?

zzzzzzt
2
Points
zzzzzzt 03/27/08 - 11:47 am
0
0
This is very tragic, and I am

This is very tragic, and I am sure those that knew her are upset and look for someone to blame for the tragedy. The fact is that people tend to hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest. I'm sure the doctor did tell her something to the effect that it looked likely to be pregnancy related. However, she also told her she was still concerned and wanted to see her back in a month to re-evaluate. Unfortunately Mrs Gough heard the first part and disregarded the rest. In addition she didn't provide her family history of cancer to the doctor which could have changed the doctors care plan. Doctors are not perfect, they are only human. But holding the doctor accountable for the actions of the patient is wrong.

whyme
1652
Points
whyme 03/27/08 - 12:34 pm
0
0
Reading this article the way

Reading this article the way it was written, you feel as if the doc was sued inappropriately. Then you read the info. from rebelbuyer and see a whole new picture. Always take this into account when reading these Augusta Chronicle "news" stories.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/27/08 - 01:27 pm
0
0
Well rebelbuyer that may be

Well rebelbuyer that may be well and true, but a jury examined the evidence and found otherwise. So perhaps we are hearing your "So, here you all go jumping off with your arm chair assesments without knowing the facts" doesn't add up to the same conclusion a jury of peers determined. Don't mean to offend, but think about that argument. I am more interested in what the other doc who settled was doing.

shamrock706
0
Points
shamrock706 03/27/08 - 02:09 pm
0
0
It must be nice to sit at

It must be nice to sit at home on your living room couch and judge this family and this lawsuit without knowing the facts of everything. You have no idea who this person was and to attack her family and character, who are you to say what she should have done. How do you know the doctor did everything she could. Don't always believe everything that is in the paper. Be a real citizen and human being and found out the truth yourself and stop being lazy about it. And I hope your family never has to go through anything like this. I would hate to see you whine about that.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/27/08 - 03:05 pm
0
0
No one is judging-that has

No one is judging-that has already occurred. People are just commenting on the ACE article, which is phrased such that the lawsuit was without merit. Jump on the ACE not those who respond to the presented information. Given the jury found the case without merit, then the editor's posit has some merit.

SunDown
2
Points
SunDown 03/27/08 - 03:27 pm
0
0
shamrock706, so you're saying

shamrock706, so you're saying that we need to basically hire a private detective to investigate every aspect of every single story before we can even offer cursory remarks. Get a clue. These forums are so people can say what they like (informed, not informed, smart, stupid etc). Lighten up.

shamrock706
0
Points
shamrock706 03/27/08 - 04:23 pm
0
0
Well we can't help it that

Well we can't help it that morons serve on the jury. That is something you all should complain about. And don't worry I have had my say with the ACE too because they are so known for their integrity of reporting. And don't worry Sun Down I have a clue and am much more informed than you think. Like I said before I hope no one in your family has to go through this and then you have to deal with yourself. That Doctor will utimately have to live with what she did and there is a special place for her. You should never blindly be lead like cattle because one person wrote an article and sat through 5 minutes of the trial then asked for the verdict. So you can lighten up all you want and live with that too. I hope your wife, mother, sister, daughter, son, husband, no one in your family ever gets shuffled around by doctors who think the sun rises and sets with them, and then reassured that everything is fine and then die 2 years later. Good luck with that.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/27/08 - 06:05 pm
0
0
There are some physicians who

There are some physicians who are arrogant but so it is in every profession. I doubt there are many posters who haven't either personally or who have family that were shuffled around by doctors-what is the point. You can also get ten different opinions dependent on the health issue. A doctor will examine x-rays, different test and draw educated conclusions, that's it. The physician has to have all the info-like is there a family history of breast cancer or fibrocystic disease. A radiologist will give his perspective and opinion but that is not diagnostic. If you have bright blood in your stool and you are 35 years of age the doc will say it is probably just a hemorrhoid. But if colon cancer runs in your family you can bet it's bend over time baby. I hate it for the family, and I'm not defending the doc. No amount of financial reward will bring this wife and mother back. It is just horrible. I can't imagine. But also think about physicians who make life and death decisions, and dealing with conscience over poor decisions. How can a pediatrician with a wife and family tell some mother "your child is dying" or worst miss a cancer till it is too late. Something to think about. A major reason I had no heart for becoming a physician.

jrock23
0
Points
jrock23 03/27/08 - 07:04 pm
0
0
My heart really goes out to

My heart really goes out to the family but we cant change the laws. I believe the right doctor (Dr. Carter) settled up before the trial began. Dr. Tucker went above and beyond the call of duty. Yes, maybe Dr. Tucker should have biopsed on the first office visit but that was the doctors call and yes she will have to live with that but, on the other hand, Dr. Tucker was not given the opportunity to biopsy on the second office visit because Mrs. Gough did not follow up until 2003 as I read from the article. I surely hope not just my family but no one elses family has to go through what this man and his girls have had to go through what any member of this family has had to go through. SHAMROCK yes your right everyone has to live with what they say and do and just maybe those morons that sat on that jury had to really do some soul search there heart and really felt they done the right thing. Who are you to call them morons? Maybe you will never be put in that position and if you do good luck with that.

Interested Reader
0
Points
Interested Reader 03/27/08 - 08:26 pm
0
0
Please take into account that

Please take into account that two families were hurt in this tragedy and are still hurting. Instead of pointing the blame on either side, let's pray for God to send these families comfort and peace to enure the pain today and in the coming days. Let us not call names. My heart goes out to both sides in this case.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/27/08 - 08:49 pm
0
0
Good call Interested Reader.

Good call Interested Reader. I agree. I know physicians are seen as callous but they hurt too. I've seen a number cry with families and "hurt" with the family. Most sincerely want to help and when things go awry it has to take a toll.

PrettyVegas
0
Points
PrettyVegas 03/27/08 - 09:57 pm
0
0
Shamrock you are the

Shamrock you are the judgemental moron and clearly a friend or relative of the Gough family. Your bitterness is evident from your post. Dr. Tucker is a fine surgeon and for you to bash her because your poor friend didn't win as much money as he had hoped is just wrong. I imagine she sleeps like a baby at night for she did her job just as she always has....with deep concern and great professionalism. My mother has been a patient of hers for several years and if I ever needed surgery, Dr. Lynn Tucker would be my first choice. It is the patients responsibility to disclose family history and medical conditions. Dr. Tucker would not have overlooked that. It is not her job to coddle every patient that comes to her office one time and never returns for follow-up. As sad as it may be, Mr. Gough needs to look in the mirror if he wants to blame someone because I doubt that he pressed her to follow-up either. Or he could blame his nurse, wife that didn't care enough about her children or her husband to take care of herself and follow up. She, of all people, should have known better. I bet her condition was getting worse the whole time and she ignored it.

kristyf1960
0
Points
kristyf1960 03/27/08 - 09:58 pm
0
0
dr tucker is a wonderful

dr tucker is a wonderful doctor. she treated me for a lump in my breast. luckily mine was not cancer. but i told her everything and returned for my appts. i am so sorry for this family, but i truly believe in this doctor....

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 03/27/08 - 11:47 pm
0
0
PrettyVegas..you'd better
Unpublished

PrettyVegas..you'd better check to see if your favorite doctor has any reportable sentinel events before getting that surgery. Theses events are when the doctor operates on the wrong body parts. On second thought your brain has already been removed.

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 03/27/08 - 11:59 pm
0
0
This jury system is all we
Unpublished

This jury system is all we have but its the same system which incarcerates the innocent and frees the guilty.

Rebelbuyer
30
Points
Rebelbuyer 03/28/08 - 12:43 am
0
0
Pretty Vegas..you are wrong.
Unpublished

Pretty Vegas..you are wrong. Mr Gough didn't ask for a dime for himself. Not a dime in insurance compensation or burial costs. Since you are such a fan of Dr. Tuckers why don't you ask her or her lawyers if this is true. I'm sincerely glad that your family member had a better experience than Christine Gough. Were you there in the court room everyday? Were you on the jury? This doctor knows that she didn't tell the truth. The only people who were surprised at the verdict was Dr. Tucker and her lawyers. Anyhow, tomorrow is another day and unfortunately Augusta will have some other tragedy to debate. I had a housekeeper who used to say in matters such as this "You may get by but you wont get away" Dr. Tucker will be revealed for the kind of physician she truly is but how many lives will it cost?

PrettyVegas
0
Points
PrettyVegas 03/28/08 - 05:05 am
0
0
RebelBuyer, shut up already.

RebelBuyer, shut up already. We've heard your tired excuses. I think the deception came on the part of this family and not Dr. Tucker. Why did the 'victim' (and I use that term loosely here) not follow-up in a timely manner? Why didn't 'husband of the year', stay on her to follow-up? Since you are so in the know, why don't you explain the irresponsiblity of NURSE Christine Gough. I'm sure if there was any surprise in the verdict is was because the Gough lawyer had arrogantly assured the greedy hubby that they would win BIG. I don't believe for a moment that there was no monetary compensation in the suit though and noticed that you said insurance compensation or burial cost...but he did ask for pain & suffering, compensation of loss of companionship or some other form of a large payment, right. And I will ask Dr. Tucker when I see her. She was not surprised by the verdict because she knew she did her job. As for now, she has been cleared so the slanderous attacks and defamation of character you are launching here, shows the low character of everyone involved with that family. I stand by my comments and believe that the CSRA is lucky to have Dr. Tucker.

PrettyVegas
0
Points
PrettyVegas 03/28/08 - 05:26 am
0
0
RebelBuyer, maybe you should

RebelBuyer, maybe you should stick to speaking with your housekeepers and hired help only. They get paid to listen to you spew, we don't. Or stick to your weekly bridge games at the Augusta Country Club with all the other well breed, useless women of Augusta. Until you posted your garbage, I did feel a bit sorry for this man and his family but you managed to destroy any percieved integrity this man had with me. Did Mr. Gough fail to give his attorney all this information you are feeding us here. Leaving vital information out seems to run in his family. If the jury knew and they still found in favor of Dr. Tucker, that means they found her to be more credible. At some point everyone has to be responsible for thier own health care. This woman chose to look the other way and hear only what she wanted to hear and it cost her her life. That is not Dr. Tuckers fault. I think one of the biggest problems this country has right now is the failure to accept accountability for our own actions. It would have been much easier for Dr. Tucker to settle this case and let her insurance pay up and be done with it. Doing so would have been saying she did something wrong, and she did not.

ca-survivor-2005
0
Points
ca-survivor-2005 03/28/08 - 05:50 am
0
0
Treatment is only as

Treatment is only as effective as the medical history and symptoms we provide our doctors. Also, history changes and should be updated. Doctors can can use the updates to make more effective diagnoses and map better care plans.

Cancer IS NOT picky about it's victims, and often masquerades as something minor. Unfortunately some victims in the medical field are reluctant to follow-up on treatment because of the knowledge they possess about cancer and it's treatments.

When pregnancy is involved many victims decide against treatment until the pregnancy is over. We can only speculate why Mrs. Gough did not follow-up as instructed. Ms. Gough's decision to wait for treatment does not constitute malpractice on the part of the doctor, but a failure on the part of the patient to follow through.

This Gough family's tradgedy should be a lesson to us all to tell our doctors everything, follow-up, get second opinions if necessary, change doctors if you're not communicating, but whatever you do, don't wait for or delay treatment.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 03/28/08 - 08:27 am
0
0
Oh PrettyVegas! How naive. It

Oh PrettyVegas! How naive. It is always someone elses fault for a personal predicament-the blame game. Rebelbuyer obviously buys into this philosophy. I can't wait for the ad hominem retort. I do agree that it is difficult to feel sympathy for the women after her "friend" seems to think it is justified to attack anyone who agrees with the jury. I guess this person doesn't believe in doctors and should never go to one-least they be a hypocrite. When it comes to cancer it pays to be proactive in your treatment as it varies from city to city and state to state. I remember a friend of mines son had a malignant cancer on one of his limbs. The doctors here wanted to immediately amputate. He did some research and found a physician in another state had a 90% cure rate with this form of cancer and no amputation. His son has been cancer free for over ten years with all his limbs.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 03/28/08 - 09:06 am
0
0
PrettyVegas, why do you say

PrettyVegas, why do you say women are useless who play bridge at The Augusta Country Club. While I agree that the outcome of the trial seems to be correct I take exception to your statement about the bridge players. It has nothing to do with Dr.Tucker. Are you a little jealous? My mother plays bridge there and she is in her 80's and has served Augusta well in many of Augusta's civic duties. She is also a very smart and compasionate woman who just happened to marry a very successful person.

freedombelle
29
Points
freedombelle 03/28/08 - 09:22 am
0
0
I think NONE of you on this

I think NONE of you on this post (maybe one or two) knew Chris Gough or her family..I knew her personally both before and during cancer. Yes she was a NURSE and a darn good one.She had worked with Dr. Tucker at University and trusted her.
She was concerned about her condition but also concerned about her unborn baby. She took her doctors advice and waited til her pregnancy was over to go back. She HAD been assured by Dr. Tucker beforehand that it was not a pressing problem..I saw her when her breast was rotting off piece by piece..An awful thing..The Doctor never removed it from beginning til the end, I don't know Dr. Tucker or what she did for others but I DO know what she Didn't do for Chris. NO I am NOT a family member but I did follow this case from beginning to end and as an old woman I loved her like a daughter. Those of you who can sit in judgement on a dead mother have NO heart. I know that Doctors are wonderful in most cases because I use them regularly and my cousin is a doctor, BUT they are human just like all of us and DO make mistakes. Some even lie to cover mistakes. All of them can't be measured by a few. Before you jump to conclusions know your facts...(more)

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 03/28/08 - 09:22 am
0
0
Man what nasty cooments about

Man what nasty cooments about this lady. Whether she was a Nurse or not, she was not a Doctor. Main point, have some respect for the dead. The harsh comments towards her and the family are tacky to say the least.

freedombelle
29
Points
freedombelle 03/28/08 - 09:32 am
0
0
I don't know all the legal

I don't know all the legal ramifications but I do know what Chris went through. AND NO the lawsuit was not about her husband, it was all for her beautiful girls and their future without their mother.
What ever happened to "Love thy neighbor" and "Judge NOT lest you be judged?" OH MY GOODNESS I slipped up and mentioned the Bible..That sure won't set well with most of you..Been there and heard that...anyway God Bless you all!

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs