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Maryland Jury Sides with Patient in $1.1M Malpractice Award

A select few of our past blogs have focused on medical malpractice stories that have been in the news recently in Maryland.

Our position has always been what we believe most reasonable people think, namely, that while members of the medical profession constitute a highly trained group marked predominantly by ethical conduct, compassion toward patients and a routinely high level of care, that is not always the case.

Like other professions, the medical industry rightly imposes on its practitioners a threshold standard of care that must be followed. Patients have a legal right to expect that their licensed and accredited doctor will provide services that his or her peers would readily recognize as proper and competent. When that care turns out to be negligent and results directly in harm to a patient, we believe it both logical and necessary for the patient to have a legal remedy against the incompetence and the injury incurred.

The following case is presented in support of that view. Quickly summarized, it involves the gallbladder surgery of a Maryland woman in which her hepatic bile duct was severed by the surgeon. This led to additional surgeries and days spent in intensive care, as well as the need for the woman to wear draining tubes for 10 months.

The doctor argued at trial that the patient had given consent to the operation, with knowledge that a severed duct is a potential complication of gallbladder surgery. The patient responded that consent is irrelevant where a doctor delivers substandard care. A severed bile duct is in fact a leading cause of malpractice suits, since it is a common complication that doctors are tasked to be aware of and can take steps during surgery to minimize.

The jury awarded the woman $1.1 million for expenses and pain and suffering. Maryland's damage cap will limit the woman's non-economic damages to $665,000.

Related Resource: "Gallbladder Surgery Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $1.1M Jury Award" September 13, 2010

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