Jury awards $2.85 million for doctor error causing paralysis

Sometimes an injured claimant will settle with one tortious wrongdoer prior to trial and go to trial only against the non-settling defendant. That happened in a medical malpractice case in a locality outside of Maryland where doctor error was the primary theory of recovery. The injured victim settled with the hospital where the treatment took place and then went to trial against the non-settling physician.

The jury rendered a verdict of $2.85 million against an orthopedic surgeon. It determined that he committed physician negligence that caused the patient to become a paraplegic, according to court testimony. The jury determined that the surgeon made a critical mistake when he ordered the patient to be taken from a hospital's pre-operative holding area to another section for a CAT scan.

The patient's vital signs at the time were critically unstable and he should have been rushed into surgery, according to claimant's lawsuit. He had been in an auto accident and suffered severe injuries, including severed arteries in his forearm, which caused a critical loss of blood and lack of circulation. When he arrived at the hospital, he allegedly needed immediate help to stop the bleeding in his arm.

While he was in pre-surgery in the South Carolina hospital, the doctor ordered a CAT scan of his knee, which had also been hurt. After the 30-minute delayed treatment, the patient suffered cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest, according to court testimony. He was resuscitated by other doctors but the delay caused the death of a portion of his spinal cord.

He became permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Experts from Harvard Medical School and other institutions testified that his extremely low blood pressure initially was an indication that he was on the verge of cardiac arrest and that causing delayed treatment of the arm was negligent. He was without blood flow for several minutes due to the physician negligence.

It's likely that the case would have had a similar outcome under the Maryland laws of medical negligence. The jury heard experts in this area of medical practice testify that there was doctor error that caused the paralysis. The jury believed the claimant's experts and disbelieved the doctor's version of the facts.

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