On May 9, 2019, a Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded a 64-year-old nurse and her husband $2,045,213.51 in economic and noneconomic damages against her orthopedic surgeon whom the jury found to have breached the standard of care and also failed to obtain the proper informed consent before performing unnecessarily spinal surgery on the plaintiff. The Maryland medical malpractice jury deliberated for nine hours over a two-day period before rendering its verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff had been a patient of the defendant orthopedic surgeon in the past, having undergone spinal surgery performed by him for a right-sided disc herniation. Since that spinal surgery was successful and alleviated the plaintiff’s right-sided symptoms at that time, she returned to the defendant orthopedic surgeon one year later when she had left-sided symptoms. The defendant orthopedic surgeon did not just recommend surgery on the left side, he recommended that she have surgery on the right side too (i.e., bilateral spinal surgery).
The Maryland medical malpractice plaintiff alleged that the defendant orthopedic surgeon was negligent in offering surgery on the right side and that she should have been offered surgery on the left side only. The plaintiff contended that only left-sided surgery was appropriate because she had symptoms only on the left side. The plaintiff also contended that because she had prior surgery on the right side that left post-operative scar tissue, the risk of suffering a dural tear on the right side during revision surgery on the right side was as high as 30% (the risk of a dural tear on the left side, which had not been previously operated on, was between 1% and 5%).
The Maryland medical malpractice plaintiff suffered a dural tear on the right side that reopened after the surgery, causing a compressive fluid collection that ultimately left her with no feeling from her waist down to her foot on the right side. As a result, the plaintiff is unable to walk independently, she cannot work or drive, and she is severely limited in her recreational activities.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant orthopedic surgeon was negligent in operating on the plaintiff’s right side that was asymptomatic, and that the defendant exposed the plaintiff to greater risk than necessary by operating on the right side. The jury also determined that the defendant orthopedic surgeon failed to obtain proper informed consent for revision surgery on the right side.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff the entire amount she sought for her past medical expenses ($84,148.51) as well as the full amount she sought for future life care costs ($370,064.00) and her lost wages ($586,001.00). The amount that the Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded to the plaintiffs for their noneconomic damages ($800,000 to the plaintiff and $205,000 to her husband for his loss of consortium claim) is greater than Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases and therefore will be reduced accordingly.
The defense reportedly refused to mediate before trial and made no offer to settle the plaintiff’s claims before trial.
Bent v. Sethi, Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Case No. 443250V.
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