Our lawyers handle negligence and malpractice claims against Maryland hospitals. These facilities are entrusted with our care when we go to the emergency room, are undergoing surgery, or recovering from an illness. Too often mistakes is made that causes serious injury or death.
Patient care cannot be expected to be perfect and there is no question that there can be a bumpy ride at even the best of hospitals. But there are minimal standards of care that every hospital must meet.
Hospitals are required to meet these standards of care and adhere to certain policies and procedures to ensure the health and well-being of their patients. Hospitals have to make sure that the doctors who practice under their umbrella are licensed and otherwise qualified to do so.
How often does this happen in a hospital setting? Far too often. The was a Harvard study of medical negligence that looked at the hospital records of over 30,000 patients. The study found that 1 out of ever 100 patients admitted to a hospital had an potential legal malpractice claim. Remember, most of these cases are presenting pretty simple medical issues. Can you imagine what the data would show if you weeded out the those cases? Sure, some of the patient suffered only minor injuries but a stunning 14% of he time the malpractice resulted in death, and 10% of the time the the incident resulted in hospitalization for more than six months. Seven of those 10 people suffered a permanent disability.
The take home message: medical malpractice happens way too often in Maryland hospitals.Why It Sometimes Makes More Sense to Sue a Hospital Than a Doctor
- Harbor Hospital (Baltimore)
- Franklin Square (White Marsh)
- Mercy Hospital (Baltimore)
- Union Memorial ( Baltimore)
- Prince George's Hospital Center
- Suburban Hospital (Bethesda)
- Johns Hopkins (Baltimore)
- University (Baltimore)
- St. Agnes (Baltimore)
- Maryland General
- Howard County General
- GBMC (Towson)
- Good Samaritan (Baltimore)
- St. Joseph's (Towson)
- Sinai (Baltimore)
From a practical standpoint, it is worth noting that a medical malpractice fight is easier against a hospital or a non-doctor health care provider (such as nurses, technicians, etc.) than against a doctor. Why? Because juries in Maryland are more willing to believe that a non-doctor health care provider could make an error causing a serious injury than they are that a doctor could make such an error. Moreover, it is easier for a jury to blame the hospital than an individual doctor because juries still - for better and for worse - see doctors as infallible.
One final consideration: doctors are sometimes reluctant to settle because their individual malpractice rates will rise. Doctors do not necessarily have veto power to decide whether a case settles. But many malpractice carriers, including doctor owned Medical Mutual which has most of the market share in Maryland, give their doctors a lot of latitude in deciding whether to make a settlement offer. This is less of a problem when suing a medical institution.Setting Up a Hospital Malpractice Claim
At Miller & Zois, we understand how to find out what happened - what really happened not just what it says in the medical records. Our lawyers challenge hospitals to explain why the hospital did what they did. We identify violations of the hospital's policy and regulations (or what should have been the hospital's policy or procedure). Our lawyers inquire about the hospital's duty to review the qualifications of their doctors to ensure that only qualified physicians practice within the hospital's walls (negligent credentialing).
To be fair, while you are reading this text, somewhere a good doctor is saving someone's life in a hospital. We should all be grateful to that hospital and to those health care providers. Here in Maryland, we are blessed to have two hospitals that are among the best in the entire world right in Baltimore: Johns Hopkins and the University Hospital (University of Maryland). But even at these incredible hospitals mistakes are made. If we make mistakes we should be held accountable for those mistakes if they hurt someone else. In that respect, hospitals are just like all of us.Sample Medical Malpractice Verdicts
Below is a list of example hospital mistake jury verdicts in Maryland. It is sometimes illustrative in trying determine both the trial and the out-of-court settlement value of any civil case to see similar cases and review their outcomes. There are limitations to doing this that are important to consider. A trial has so many variables and it is difficult to know from these summarizes what turned the verdict.
- 2014, Maryland, Baltimore City : $5.2 Million Verdict. Our client is armed security guard and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is injured when a gate is inadvertently activated while he is crossing it, hoisting him into the air, trapping him and twisting his knee. He dislocates the knee and tears almost every ligament and tendon. He is seen in a Baltimore City emergency room and undergoes a series of X-rays. He is diagnosed with a knee sprain and is discharged. He returns two days later to the ER with no pulses in his foot, eventually resulting in an above the knee amputation. He files suit against the physician’s assistant and ER doctor claiming they breached the standard of care by failing to rule out a popliteal artery injury. Defendants claim the Plaintiff is at fault for failing to provide them with an adequate history and further claim he subsequently injured the knee after being discharged. The latter argument particularly did not sell with this jury who clearly understood the Plaintiff was a great guy and an honest guy. Our argument was that if anyone had done a proper vascular assessment, he could have been re-vascularized and the leg would have survived. A Baltimore City jury sided with the Plaintiff and awarded Miller & Zois' client $5.2 million dollars. [More information on premature hospital discharge claims.]
- 2014, Maryland, Baltimore City: $1,700,000 Verdict: A pregnant woman complains of shortness of breath when she arrives at the University of Maryland Midtown Hospital. She is transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center, where an X-Ray reveals what doctors think is pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism. Doctors induce labor the following day without suggesting a C-Section. During delivery, the child’s arm becomes lodged, leading the child to be diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy upon birth. The child’s mother sues the hospital, claiming that the doctors were negligent by not utilizing alternate means to deliver the child; namely a C-Section. The case goes before a Baltimore City jury, who awards the plaintiffs $1,700,000.
- June 2013, Maryland: $620,000 Verdict: An employee of Baltimore City, 41, arrives in the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMS) emergency room complaining of severe headaches. Upon arrival, the treating physician orders a spinal tap, which would evaluate any possible bleeding or injuries to the brain. After the spinal tap, the woman is released with no diagnosis and two pain pills. While at home, the woman is climbing up the stirs and suddenly begins to experience excruciating neck pain. She immediately returns for treatment. This time she is diagnosed with cervical disc herniations. The damages result in the plaintiff receiving a surgery a year later. The plaintiff files suit against UMMC alleging that the disc herniations occurred when improper pressure was applied to her neck during the initial spinal tap, violating the standard of care. The defendant does not argue that according to the standard of care the pressure should not be applied during a spinal tap, but do deny that such pressure was applied during the plaintiff’s spinal tap. They argue the plaintiff was not complaining of any pain following the procedure. The jury found the hospital liable for the city worker’s injuries and awarded her $620,000.
- March 2013. Maryland: $750,000 Settlement: A 56 year-old man arrives at an emergency care facility complaining of chest pains. An EKG test shows abnormal ST depressions and the man is instructed by the treating physician to report to the emergency room for emergency cardiac evaluation. The man reports to the hospital where he presents a copy of the EKG and a report of his initial complaints. The emergency room physician orders two additional EKGs. The physician dismisses the man, informing him that the additional EKG results show a normal sinus rhythm with a septal-myocardial infarct. Three days after being released from the emergency room, the man suffers a fatal myocardial, leaving behind 4 children. The man’s estate brings suit to the hospital for medical malpractice, alleging the negligence of the emergency physician caused the man’s death. The plaintiff claims the standard of care required the physician to not only admit the patient for observation and evaluation, but to also seek a cardiology consult. The parties agree to settle in the amount of $750,000 before trial.
- January 2013, Maryland: $3,000,000 Settlement: A 21 year old woman is pregnant at 27 weeks and is in severe distress. She arrives at an outpatient labor center of the defendant hospital. After multiple tests, she is diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. The woman is stabilized and taken to surgery where she is given an emergency C-section. The child is born in distress and requires resuscitation. She is transferred to a specialty hospital where she is treated for hemorrhagic and ischemic changes in the brain. Thankfully, the child is stabilized and transferred to a third facility for long-term treatment. The infant suffers from irreversible brain damage. She will never be able to walk, talk or take care of herself and will remain ventilator-dependent. Plaintiffs sue the hospital for medical malpractice, claiming the blood studies obtained at the time of birth showed the infant had not suffered significant brain injuries, yet blood work obtained 41 minutes after the birth showed severe acidosis. They allege the hospital failed to provide the child with timely treatment, thus violating the standards of care. The parties agree to resolve the claim and settle for $3,000,000.
- July 2012, Maryland: $21,000,000 Verdict: A woman at 31 weeks pregnant arrives at Medstar Harbor Hospital in Baltimore with symptoms of high blood pressure and hypertension. While in treatment, she is evaluated by a maternal fetal medicine specialist and connected to an electrical fetal heart rate monitor. The specialist instructs that should the mother and fetus remain stable, a vaginal examination delivery was possible, but should the status worsen, delivery must be via Cesarean section. The woman is kept overnight and is induced for labor the following morning. A few hours after they induce her, an obstetrician and gynecologist conduct a vaginal examination and note her cervix is four centimeters dilated. At that time, the fetal heart rate is reassuring with minimal variability. However, a few hours pass and the rate becomes non-reassuring and the physicians are required to perform a C-section. The procedure does not occur for another five hours after the initial decision. Upon delivery, the infant’s neck is wrapped by his umbilical cord and he appears pale and lifeless. While the child is fortunate enough to survive, he is ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The child is considered severely physically handicapped, as one leg is shorter than the other, thereby making him a fall risk. Since, he has undergone multiple leg surgeries, one of which has required up to a month of rehabilitation. He faces a lifetime of medical attention and treatment. The mother sues the hospital and treating physicians for medical malpractice on her son’s behalf. Plaintiff’s experts indicate that while the heart monitoring strips were originally assuring, the later strips showed severe fetal distress. They claim these tests should have called for the obstetrician to demand an emergency C-section as opposed to allowing the labor to continue unnecessarily for three additional hours. Plaintiff’s expert in neonatology testifies the cord was strangling the baby, creating a lack of oxygen to the brain. The cord had to be surgically removed and had the physicians complied with the standards of care, there was a 95-percent chance the child would have been born a healthy baby boy with little to no injuries. Defendants’ experts claimed brains that are deprived of oxygen give off an acid that shows in blood, which the child did not. They also stated that had the child suffered from any brain damage from asphyxia at birth, ultrasounds would have indicated brain swells. The jury found the Medstar Harbor Hospital and the treating physicians guilty of deviating the standard of care and awarded the plaintiff $21,000,000.
- April 2011, Maryland: $1,038,312 Verdict: An elderly woman who has a history of aortic stenosis arrives at Johns Hopkins Hospital for aortic valve surgery. During the surgery, the operating team finds that her aortic root was small and low on the aorta. They replace the valve with a preserved pig tissue and patched it with cow tissue. The surgery is completed and the woman is discharged. Shortly thereafter, the opening to the coronary arteries blocks and the woman suffers heart failure. Consequently, her heart is re-arrested and the aortic root has to be replaced. As if these complications were not difficult enough for the woman to handle, her liver and kidney begin to fail and she is placed on a ventilator. Her condition worsens even more so and she undergoes a tracheotomy and has a feeding tube inserted. After the multiple procedures and complications, the woman unfortunately passes at the age of 67. The woman’s estate brings a wrongful death suit against the Johns Hopkins Health System Corporation for failing to follow the standard of care during her procedure. They allege the medical team failed to perform an aortic root replacement during the initial procedure, which could have prevented further complications. The jury finds in favor for the plaintiff and awards a verdict of $1,038,312 (the amount was later reduced to $912,998).
- More Maryland malpractice verdicts
Make no mistake about it: these cases are complex and expensive. Hospitals just don't admit their mistakes.... unless they're forced to. But our lawyers have taken on this challenge many times and won. Do you need our help? If you have been injured as the result of medical or hospital malpractice or negligence, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation.Hospital Specific MalpracticeEmergency Room Malpractice