A federal medical malpractice jury in Baltimore has awarded $1.5 million to a 38-year-old man whose genitals were allegedly mutilated by a flesh-eating bacteria that a local hospital failed to diagnose for over 58 hours. The award in the amount of $1.4 million for noneconomic damages will be automatically reduced to $650,000 due to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.
The seven-day medical malpractice trial that ended on June 19, 2012 was followed by more than six hours of jury deliberations before the verdict was rendered on June 20, 2012. The federal medical malpractice case was filed two years after the date of the alleged medical malpractice.
The man had gone to a medical clinic with complaints of a painful red cyst in the area of his backside that had expanded to his testicles, which swelled. He was then referred to a local hospital where a CT scan found air in his perineum and scrotum on his right side. He was admitted to the hospital as an inpatient where two urologists diagnosed his condition as cellulitis.
Two days later, an infectious disease specialist was concerned that the man may have necrotizing fasciitis (commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria). Surgery was performed the following day that required removing the right testicle, the scrotal sac, and dead tissue including from around the penis. Four surgeries followed including a skin graft from his leg that was used on his penis, which is one-third shorter and has resulted in painful erections and decreased sensitivity.
The federal medical malpractice lawsuit claimed that there was an unnecessary delay in diagnosing the flesh-eating bacteria because the CT scan showed air in the scrotal sac more than two days before the surgery. The medical malpractice claim alleged that had the proper diagnosis been made in a timely fashion, the man would have not sustained injury to his penis and the removal of his testicle and scrotal sac.
The injuries and damages sustained by the 38-year-old man are obvious, traumatic, permanent, painful, and substantial. The fact that the medical malpractice jury award is automatically and arbitrarily reduced by more than one-half due to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages without the right or ability to challenge the reduction as unfair and unjust under the circumstances seems capricious to us.
How can one maintain a belief in the independence of the judicial system and the importance of the civil jury system if the decisions of juries are not given their full weight and proper respect. Why must civil juries be marginalized by caps on noneconomic damages that prostrates the jury’s province?
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical negligence in Baltimore, in Maryland, or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney regarding your legal rights.
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