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A doctor accused of murdering a hospital patient in Fort Worth is headed to prison, but on a less severe charge. Jurors found Dr. Lydia Grotti guilty of criminally-negligent homicide. She will serve a two-year sentence.
Grotti was charged with murdering 64-year-old Lettie McGhee, whose heart stopped as she sat in the waiting room at the John Peter Smith Hospital emergency room.
According to charts and testimony, a trauma team worked on McGhee for an hour, shocked her 15 times, injected her with stimulants and asked to have her admitted to ICU.
Instead, Grotti disconnected the ventilator and declared McGhee dead.
But an hour later, McGhee's chest was still moving. Dr. Grotti testified she covered the endotracheal tube to stop the movement.
Defense attorneys argued McGhee was legally dead, and that the movement was caused by a deteriorating brainstem. Prosecutors said she was alive until Grotti cut off the air supply.
Jurors found her guilty of criminally-negligent homicide. Her lawyer compared it to a malpractice case. "Malpractice (is) negligence that causes a death," defense attorney Keith Ward said. "So, it's very unusual for a physician to be charged criminally with what occurs in the practice of medicine on a regular basis."
Jim Douglas, Dallas Morning News, 08/31/2004
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