Family Members Succeed in Maryland Medical Malpractice Action After Fatal Medication Dosage

A successful Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit can help families recover compensation for the loss of a loved one.  In one such recent case, a Maryland jury awarded a total of ten millions dollars to the family members of a patient who had died after receiving medical treatment from the defendants.  Although the non-economic damages were reduced pursuant to Maryland law, the victim’s wife and his seven children succeeded on their medical malpractice wrongful death action.  The doctor and hospital defendants filed an appeal, which was considered by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in an opinion issued August 30, 2018.

In 2013, the victim in the case was taken to the hospital by ambulance, complaining of weakness in his arms and legs.  Blood tests revealed that he was suffering from acute rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle fibers break down, releasing muscle proteins in the bloodstream.  During his hospital admittance, the victim experienced an elevated level of potassium in the blood, which his doctor identified as hyperkalemia.  The doctor ordered the hospital staff to administer several different medications to manage the issue.  Overnight, the victim began experiencing extreme abdominal pain and a drop in blood pressure.  He was transferred to the intensive care unit and later underwent extensive surgery, from which he never regained consciousness.

The victim’s family members filed suit against the doctor and the hospital, alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death.  Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the doctor negligently administered a particular medication that damaged the victim’s intestines, ultimately causing his death.  After a trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs.

The defendants argued several grounds on appeal, one of which was that the plaintiffs should not have been allowed to introduce evidence that the doctor failed to administer calcium compounds to the victim as part of the medication treatment.  Medical guidelines for hyperkalemia call for these compounds to be administered in the first phase to protect the patient from a heart attack.  However, it was undisputed that the doctor’s failure to administer the compounds did not cause the victim’s death.  While the evidence was irrelevant as to the issue of causation, the court noted that the plaintiffs sought to introduce the evidence to rebut the doctor’s testimony that he used every available tool to treat the victim.  The appeals court concluded that the evidence was relevant to the propriety of the doctor’s treatment decisions in the immediate aftermath of the symptoms shown by the victim, and that it was properly admitted.  The court went on to affirm the judgment against the defendants.

At Foran & Foran, our Maryland attorneys have successfully represented many injury victims in medical malpractice actions and other cases involving negligence.  We have the experience and resources to assist you in pursuing legal action against the people or business responsible for your injury.  Contact our law office by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website form to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Appeals Court Affirms Jury Verdict in Favor of Plaintiff in Medical Negligence Claim Against Hospital, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 7, 2017

Maryland Court Rules Expert Testimony Required to Establish Plaintiff’s Claim for Lack of Informed Consent, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 18, 2016