Baptist Memorial faces lawsuit for negligence


Isabelle Altman



An Iowa man has filed a federal lawsuit against Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle and several of its medical staff, alleging negligence after he said it took him three trips in consecutive days to the hospital's emergency room to see a doctor for an infection that eventually resulted in a stroke, took multiple surgeries to treat and ended his career as an airline pilot.


Michael Bollwitt and his wife Jeri Bollwitt, of North Liberty, Iowa, filed the suit in Aberdeen earlier this month. Their attorney, Shane Langston of Jackson-based Langston and Langston, said Michael Bollwitt had a surgically implanted device in his jaw to help with sleep apnea that became infected in November 2018 while Bollwitt and his wife were visiting Columbus. The treatment, Langston said, should have been antibiotics and "something to help counter the ... infection." But because Bollwitt went to the ER three times before being correctly diagnosed, he got sepsis, causing his eardrum to burst and for him to have a stroke.


"He was a commercial pilot for American Airlines in his 50s, he was a hero in the military flying aircraft, and ... because of this and because of the delayed diagnosis, not only will he never fly again, he will never drive again," Langston said. "He had a stroke and is impaired in many different ways. It's just a tragic accident."



According to the complaint, Michael Bollwitt went to the ER on Nov. 22 and 23, 2018, with increasingly worsening pain, only to be discharged in less than two hours without having been examined by a licensed medical doctor. The night of Nov. 23, Jeri Bollwitt called the hospital again, concerned about her husband's condition -- the complaint says he was too ill to walk -- and was put on hold for 28 minutes before she ended the call and began packing her vehicle to drive him back to Iowa to see their doctors there.


However, the next day she became worried the drive to Iowa "would be life-threatening" for him and took him back to Baptist, the complaint says. This time doctors assessed Michael Bollwitt immediately and diagnosed him with multiple conditions, including mastoiditis in his right ear and sepsis. He was flown to Baptist's medical trauma center in Memphis for treatment.


The complaint says Michael Bollwitt suffered a stroke, multiple seizures and other medical complications in Memphis and underwent two brain surgeries and many other medical procedures. Langston said he is now back in Iowa where he receives "around-the-clock" medical care.


The Bollwitts are asking for a jury trial to determine damages awarded. Langston said the medical expenses paid to care for Michael Bollwitt are approaching $1 million, in addition to his loss of income as a pilot.


"He's not doing well and Ms. Bollwitt is not doing well either," Langston said. "She has her hands full, and it's of course affected him in many ways physically but also mentally and emotionally. It's just torn apart both of their lives.


"It's a very tragic situation, and in today's environment with the COVID-19, we very much appreciate all our medical providers, medical doctors and nurses," he added. "In this particular case though, there was just a failure. Totally dropped the ball for Mr. Bollwitt and his family, and ... the consequences are staggering. We just don't believe that the Bollwitts should bear the brunt of the financial consequences themselves when they weren't at fault."


Representatives from Baptist did not comment when reached on Monday.





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