At the conclusion of a three-week trial, a Baltimore City jury last week awarded $28 million to a 47 year-old man whose perforated ulcer went undiagnosed, resulting in significant complications and life-altering deteriorations in his health. The man had a history of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. However, his Chron’s had not caused him any significant trouble since a surgical procedure in 2000.
In May of 2011, the patient presented to an area hospital with severe, burning left-sided pain radiating to his chest. Rather than rule out an upper gastrointestinal illness, the treating physician treated him for a flare-up of his Chron’s and discharged the patient thereafter. Some eight days later, the patient returned to the hospital with nearly identical symptoms and, again, the treating physicians failed to consider an upper gastrointestinal illness. As the result of the misdiagnosis, a duodenal ulcer was perforated. An ulcer is an open sore or lesion, usually found on the skin or mucous membrane areas of the body. A duodenal ulcer is a sore or lesion that occurs in the upper area of the small intestine.
The physicians decided to perform surgery on this patient’s abdomen to determine what was happening. During the surgery, the surgeon missed the perforated ulcer and, instead, removed a portion of the patient’s bowel. At the end of that procedure, the surgeon performed intestinal anastomosis, a surgical procedure to establish communication between two formerly distant portions of the intestine. However, the failure to address the perforated ulcer caused the intestinal anastomosis to break down, resulting in the need for dozens of future surgeries and further resection of the patient’s bowel. As the result of these physicians’ negligence, the patient suffers from significant health problems and can only take in nutrition through a feeding tube.
The jury’s award included $14 million in future medical and life care expenses, $8 million in pain and suffering and $1 million in past medical expenses. The award also included $5 million for loss of consortium – the damage caused to the patient’s marital relationship. The patient now will be able to afford the around-the-clock care that he requires.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a medical mistake – including a misdiagnoses or surgical error – call one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at (410) 385-2225.