Jackson County

8 more lawsuits filed against ousted SRHS neurologist Terry Millette

More lawsuits are piling up against former Singing River Health System Dr. Terry Millette for allegedly diagnosing patients with an autoimmune disease they never had, court records say.

In April, six more former patients of the neurologist filed suit against him and Singing River Health System for misdiagnosing them with multiple sclerosis.

Two other lawsuits were filed last week.

With an additional seven other lawsuits filed late last year, a total of 15 lawsuits are pending against Millette and SRHS over allegations of being misdiagnosed with the same crippling disease.

Attorney Tim Holleman, who is representing the majority of the plaintiffs along with another attorney, said the treatment were hard on the patients because the medication causes severe side effects, including severe nausea and tremors and being unable to do normal activities. In addition, a single medication can cost $30,000 or more, he said.

"A diagnosis of MS is pretty devastating thing just by itself," Holleman said. "That is a traumatic event, and various patients were in different stages of treatment."

Holleman said he's received some evidence submitted by SRHS and Millette since the initial lawsuits were filed. From what he's learned, he said it appears an investigation began after someone noticed the large number of people diagnosed with MS in Jackson County alone.

SRHS conducted its own investigation and terminated Millette's contract, though he is now in private practice.

In the latest filings, former patients are seeking compensation for negligence, pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses and other issues related to the unnecessary treatment for the disease, records say.

One of the lawsuits includes another defendant, Dr. Rance Wilbourn, who initially diagnosed one of the former patients with MS before Millette took over that patient's care and treatment.

Both SRHS and Millette have denied any wrongdoing.

Stephen Burrow, of Pascagoula, is representing Millette but declined to comment.

In the past, Burrow told the Sun Herald Millette "denies that he misdiagnosed any patient with MS," adding the SRHS has also said Millette was not negligent when diagnosing patients.

SRHS and Millette claim the patients received the "standard level of care" at all times.

MS, a disorder of the central nervous system, results in weakness, numbness, loss of muscle coordination and problems with speech, vision and bladder control.

All the lawsuits were filed in Jackson County Circuit Court after SRHS abruptly closed Millette's office and terminated his SRHS contract in November 2016. In a statement at the time, the health system said the decision to end the contract and close his office was the result of questions about Millette's diagnosis and treatment of MS patients.

SRHS conducted its own review of the doctor's medical activity for patients diagnosed with MS.

Many of his former patients went to Jackson County supervisors after his termination to say SRHS mishandled the action against Millette.

Millette has said he felt the split was personal. He is now in private practice.

Margaret Baker 228-896-0538, margar45