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Medical Malpractice: One Lawyer's Unique Perspective

Inman Park attorney Rod Edmond is one half of the Edmond & Lindsay law firm. He's also a doctor.

GRANT PARK — When it comes to malpractice and the law, Rod Edmond has a particularly unique perspective.

Edmond, who is a physician, also is an attorney and that allows him special insight into an issue that has been part of the state and national discussion on malpractice costs.

Congress and the Georgia Legislature have looked at tackling those costs through tort reform efforts that would limit payouts.

Medical practitioners lament the cost of malpractice insurance makes the business of medicine in some states too cost prohibitive to run their own practices.

Georgia, for example, ranked 10th nationwide in medical malpractice payouts in 2012, with $86 million, according to an analysis by Diederich Healthcare, a malpractice insurer.

Among the states in the Southeast, only Florida had more payouts, ranking at No. 5 with $218.1 million in payouts. (New York ranked No. 1 with $677.8 million.)

Edmond, a principal in the Grant Park-based Edmond & Lindsay, said he understands the debate, but added the majority of doctors practice with the utmost of care.

The courts, he said are there to give recompense to victims who suffer negligence and are otherwise harmed by physicians.

Last year, for example, he and one of his associates won a $5 million jury verdict in a 2009 wrongful death case against a Lawrenceville doctor.

The 31-year-old victim, William Martinez, told his cardiologist, Sreenivasulu Gangasani, that he was experiencing increased episodes of chest pains even while at rest.

Martinez, who was married with two children ad a police officer, had a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other tests that showed he was at risk for having clogged arteries.

Gangasani agreed the pains were likely heart-related but believed that Martinez's condition was stable and scheduled him for a stress test two weeks later.

But the day before the test — March 12, 2009 — Martinez died after having a threesome with a buddy and a woman. The jury found the doctor was negligent, but it found Martinez also was culpable and reduced the final award amount to $3 million.

Despite calls for reform regarding malpractice lawsuits, claims have actually fallen steadily for the seven-year period that ended in 2011, according to a report last year published in Insurance Journal, a trade publication. (The payouts, however, have gotten larger.)

Edmond, who lives in Inman Park, sat down with East Atlanta Patch to discuss his journey from physician to attorney and the current state of malpractice.

Please click on the videos to hear portions of that interview.

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