Regel v. GBMC Medical Associates
This is an endocarditis medical malpractice lawsuit brought by a female patient. The defendants are the plaintiff’s treating physicians.
All medical malpractice cases in Maryland must first be filed in Health Claims Arbitration before proceeding to a circuit court. This claim was filed in the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office on January 5th, 2018. This is the sixth medical malpractice suit filed in the state of Maryland in 2018.
This case involves endocarditis, which is the infection of the inner lining of the heart. The condition led to mitral valve prolapse (a kind of heart disease) and left the patient with permanent hearing loss in one ear. Hearing loss is just one possible outcome from an untreated cardiac infection and the allegations in the suit illustrate just how important it is to detect and treat these infections as soon as possible.
Summary of Plaintiff’s Allegations
In December 2014, the plaintiff was presented to the defendants with a rash/swelling on her fingertips and severe sudden weight loss of approximately 13 pounds. She is diagnosed with a viral infection.
The plaintiff is seen again the next month with complaints of the rash as well as a persistent cough and a fever of 101.6 degrees. Bloodwork is drawn from the plaintiff and she is prescribed iron supplements as well as protein shakes.
Later that month, the plaintiff is seen with complaints of a clogged right ear and respiratory congestion. The plaintiff is also diagnosed with a heart murmur. She is told to take Flonase, an over-the-counter corticosteroid.
The plaintiff returns in February of 2015 with a fever, chills, and night sweats. The plaintiff is found to have endocarditis and is hospitalized for mitral valve repair. After she is discharged, the plaintiff temporarily uses a home health aide and is placed on intravenous antibiotics.
As a result of the delay in treatment, the plaintiff claims ongoing hearing loss and tinnitus.
How does an untreated heart condition cause permanent hearing loss? The heart controls the flow of blood throughout the body. If the heart’s ability to circulate blood is impaired, it can destroy delicate hair cells in the inner ear. These cells don’t regenerate, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Note how the plaintiff showed other unusual symptoms indicating poor circulation, like a rash/swelling to her fingertips.
Mitral valve prolapse is when the valve between the heart’s upper and lower left chambers closes. It is a degenerative disorder of the valve and takes many years to progress. There may be a genetic and congenital basis for it. It is not an acquired disorder.
The lawsuit and expert report make clear that during both of her initial visits to the defendants, her history of mitral valve prolapse was discussed. The key allegation in this suit is the fact that the plaintiff had a known history of mitral valve prolapse, a condition linked to endocarditis.
The plaintiff underwent surgery to place a cochlear implant and requires the use of a hearing aid in her right ear. The complaint alleges the plaintiff’s hearing deficits are permanent conditions directly related to the untreated endocarditis. It is unclear what impact this has on her daily life or ability to work.
The defense will likely argue that the endocarditis was diagnosed in a timely manner and deny that there was a preventable delay in detection.
Plaintiff’s Expert Witnesses
The plaintiff’s certifying expert is Dr. Neal Shadoff. Dr. Shadoff is an internist and cardiologist. He has testified in the past as an expert in Maryland. His practice is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In his expert report, Dr. Shadoff concluded that the defendants departed from the standard of care by failing to consider the plaintiff’s history of mitral valve prolapse when diagnosing her condition.
The report states that the negligence of the defendants caused the plaintiff’s hearing deficits. Shadoff argued that, had the endocarditis been diagnosed in a timely manner, it could’ve been treated effectively with antibiotics and the permanent hearing loss/tinnitus would’ve been prevented. This report will be the cornerstone of the plaintiff’s suit.
The defendants failed to diagnose or treat the plaintiff’s endocarditis in a timely manner.
The defendants had a duty to perform laboratory studies in order to identify the endocarditis and a duty to provide immediate antibiotic treatment once discovered.
The failure to treat the endocarditis earlier resulted in the need for early mitral valve replacement and caused permanent partial hearing loss.
GMBC Medical Associates, P.A., a family medicine doctor, an internist, and GBMC Healthcare, Inc.
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Getting a Lawyer for Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Have you suffered an injury due to the negligence of a doctor? You are entitled to justice and compensation for the harm done to you. Miller & Zois is here to help you. We have a long history of obtaining large settlements and verdicts in medical malpractice cases in Maryland. Get a free online case review or call us today at 800-553-8082.