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One doctor removed from civil suit in malpractice trial in woman's death

Published October 23. 2009 05:00PM

One of three doctors on trial in Schuylkill County court on charges of malpractice was removed from the civil suit when Judge Charles M. Miller granted the motion for a non-suit.

When the jury took their seats in the courtroom Thursday morning to begin hearing testimony for the fourth day of the trial Miller told the jury that Dr. Richard C. Miller, of Lehighton, was no longer a part of the suit but made no further explanation to the jury.

Dr. Miller performed the Caesarian Section on Gina Clouser, of Tamaqua, on June 29, 2009, at Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital, Lehighton, and delivered a healthy baby. Soon after Mrs. Clouser started feeling ill and saw the other two doctors in the suit. She died on Aug. 25, 2000, from a rare bacterial infecdtion which spread through her blood stream to her brain and other vital parts. The malpractice civil suit was brought by her husband, Leonard Clouser, 435 Willing St., Tamaqua.

So far testimony has been presented by expert witnesses against the doctors claiming they were negliegent and careless in their treatment of Mrs. Clouser. The experts testifying for Clouser claimed the doctors did not go to the full extend to determine the cause of her illness and if the bacteria had been discovered at an early stage antibiotics could have curtailed it and she would be alive today.

Testimony then began to be presented on behalf of the two remaining doctors named in the suit, Dr. Kailash R. Makhija, of Lehighton, and Dr. Thomas J. Dirnberger, of Tamaqua.

Dr. Michael Trainer, Tamaqua, a chiropractor, testified Mrs. Clouser visited his office on Aug. 3, 2000. It was her first visit and he gave her a general examination. His report showed she complained of extreme distress to her lower back and neck. He said she came to the office using a walker and was assisted by her husband.

Trainer testified he gave an examination and even looked at the incision for the Caesarian Section she had undergone to give birth to a baby girl. He said the wound was healing well, there was no bleeding or swelling. She complained of having a problem of not eating and appeared to be in pain. Her temperature was 102 and she complained of chills.

Dr. Trainer testified he told her he would like her to go to the hospital for testing but she claimed she was an outpatient of Dr. Miller. She returned for a second visit the next day, Aug. 4, and reported her back pain was not as severe and she walked much better but slowly and cautiously. She reported having less pain but still was sweating. Dr. Trainer said she appeared in a better mood and was smiling. He said she brought in X-rays which showed arthritis in the lower back and a mild curvage in the lower back. He testified later in the day he learned she was admitted to the Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township.

Dr. Robert H. Debbs, who practices in Philadelphia but lives in Voorhees, N.J., testified as an expert witness and he told the jury he examined the medical records of the doctors and the hospital and found the doctors did everying under the standard procedure required of physicians.

Dr. Makhija only saw Mrs. Clouser once, June 29, 2009, in the emergency room of St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale as he was filling in for Dr. Miller. Dr. Dirnberger saw her twice in office visits and both times recommended she go to the hosptial for tests.

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