A Maryland medical malpractice jury in Howard County, Maryland has awarded the plaintiff in excess of $5 million for permanent damage sustained to her pancreas as a result of an allegedly botched diagnostic procedure that the defendant gastroenterologist had performed in 2014.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded the plaintiff just over $1 million for past medical expenses, $1 million for her lost wages, $72,000 for future medical expenses, and $3 million in noneconomic damages, which will be reduced to $740,000 pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in Maryland medical malpractice cases.
The Underlying Facts
The plaintiff was experiencing abdominal pain in April 2014 and she had a family history of pancreatic cancer, for which the defendant gastroenterologist recommended that she have a diagnostic procedure known as ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography). Shortly after the procedure, the plaintiff returned to the hospital with severe abdominal pain where she was diagnosed with post-ERCP pancreatitis that required that she be hospitalized for nearly one year.
The plaintiff must take many pills each day in order to digest her food.
The plaintiff’s Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the procedure was not necessary and that the defendant had failed to obtain her informed consent for the ERCP because she was not advised that she was at heightened risk of developing pancreatitis from the ERCP because of of her age, her gender, and other factors.
The plaintiff’s Maryland medical malpractice lawyer stated after the verdict, “I think ultimately this jury verdict demonstrates that physicians have a responsibility to their patients to give them all of the information they need to make intelligent and informed decisions about their medical care.”
The defense attorney, noting that the plaintiff was a sympathetic victim because her serious injury was not the result of anything that she had done, stated after the verdict, “Not one expert said my client did anything wrong during the procedure. We are chalking this up as a situation where the jury just wasn’t going to turn down this woman.”
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that combines upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and x-rays to treat problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts. Doctors also use ERCP to diagnose problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts if they expect to treat problems during the procedure. For diagnosis alone, doctors may use noninvasive tests—tests that do not physically enter the body—instead of ERCP. Noninvasive tests such as magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)—a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—are safer and can also diagnose many problems of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
During ERCP, the doctor
- locates the opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts empty into the duodenum
- slides a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through the endoscope and into the ducts
- injects a special dye, also called contrast medium, into the ducts through the catheter to make the ducts more visible on x-rays
- uses a type of x-ray imaging, called fluoroscopy, to examine the ducts and look for narrowed areas or blockages.
The doctor may pass tiny tools through the endoscope to
- open blocked or narrowed ducts
- break up or remove stones
- perform a biopsy or remove tumors in the ducts
- insert stents—tiny tubes that a doctor leaves in narrowed ducts to hold them open. A doctor may also insert temporary stents to stop bile leaks that can occur after gallbladder surgery.
The ERCP procedure most often takes between 1 and 2 hours.
The risks of ERCP include complications such as the following:
- infection of the bile ducts or gallbladder
- excessive bleeding, called hemorrhage
- an abnormal reaction to the sedative, including respiratory or cardiac problems
- perforation in the bile or pancreatic ducts, or in the duodenum near the opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts empty into it
- tissue damage from x-ray exposure
- death, although this complication is rare.
Research has found that these complications occur in about 5 to 10 percent of ERCP procedures.
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in Maryland, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a Maryland medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in Maryland or elsewhere in the United States who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.