Family alleges negligence in woman's death - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Family alleges negligence in woman's death

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The family of 23-year-old Tallia Montgomery has filed suit against the Guam Memorial Hospital, alleging gross negligence by physicians and staff that resulted in her death. A complaint for negligence was filed with the superior court as the family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. 

According to court documents, Montgomery was first treated at GMH on December 3, 2009 after complaining of stomach pains, diarrhea, and eye and lip discoloration. The family alleges that Dr. Geoffrey Galgo improperly diagnosed her and Dr. Faraz Ouhadi incorrectly administered Heparin.  Montgomery left Guam for four days to the Philippines where she received treatment and her condition improved. 

She was admitted back to GMH on December 21 to receive medication prior to a referral and transfer to Good Samaritan Hospital.  She never made it to California though. 

Despite attempts to have her discharged, the family contends GMH personnel thwarted their efforts.  It was during this five-day stay that Montgomery received at least 12 milligrams of morphine within a 12-hour period. They claim that Dr. Vincent Duenas carelessly administered the drug, causing her to become unresponsive and physically emaciated.

They blame inadequate and improper patient care checks, controls and record keeping as well as excess fluid administration for the young woman's death on December 27.  Montgomery's family believes that Dr. Duenas was incompetent and unfit to perform the procedures or render treatment as they claim the physician was placed on an excluded list of providers capable of treating patients who receive federal funding because of a prior over-prescription of a dangerous controlled substance to a prior patient. 

They claim GMH knew or had reason to know that she would be subjected to an unreasonable risk of harm by Dr. Duenas exercising his staff privileges at the hospital. 

GMH, which is represented by fisher and associates, has 60 days from the date the complaint was filed, to respond to the lawsuit.  Tallia's family is seeking a trial to prove the amount of damages that should be awarded. While GMH administrator Rey Vega couldn't comment on the case because it is under litigation, Vega did confirm that whatever privileges Dr. Duenas had been excluded from have been reinstated and were done so prior to Vega taking the administrator position. 

He could not confirm how long Dr. Duenas was excluded from certain privileges at GMH referring our inquiries to the hospital's legal counsel.

In 2004 Dr. Duenas entered into a plea agreement with the feds. He pleaded guilty to giving Percocet to an unnamed male patient he was related to over a two-year period without a legitimate medical purpose. Duenas told the court he felt pressured to give the patient the medication.

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