Upper Chesapeake Medical Center

A look at malpractice claims involving this hospital

Upper Chesapeake Medical Center is a part of Upper Chesapeake Health, which also includes Harford Memorial Hospital. Located in Bel Air, it is a relative newcomer to the state having been founded in 2000. Upper Chesapeake provides most major medical services, including emergency medicine (including pediatric emergency care), obstetrics, cardiac care, a cancer center, and orthopedic and rehabilitation services. It has 181 beds, has almost 62,000 emergency room visits each year, and has over 1,300 child births every year.

Settling Cases Against Upper Chesapeake Medical Center

In cases where there is very clear-cut negligence and the injuries are clear, settlement may be possible without the need for a lawsuit. This doesn't happen often, but it can occur from time to time. Lawyers - or victims choosing not to hire a lawyer - who want to explore the possibility of pre-suit resolution of a case against this facility should contact:

Ms. Debbie Bittle Risk Manager
Upper Chesapeake Health System
501 S. Union Avenue
Havre de Grace, Maryland 21078

Where To File Upper Chesapeake Medical Center Lawsuits

Harford County has a reputation as being one of the more conservative counties where personal injury cases are concerned. However, there was a $3.5 million verdict in 2010 against Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, so like anything else the exact facts of a particular case may overcome any conservative leanings of the jury. It should be noted that Upper Chesapeake Health System entered into a strategic alliance in 2009 with the University of Maryland Medical System. Lawyers may have other options about where to file these lawsuits, particularly if the University of Maryland is a potential defendant. Under the right circumstances, it is conceivable that a case against Upper Chesapeake could be filed in Baltimore City. Charm City is a favored jurisdiction for medical malpractice plaintiffs, and has been the location of several large verdicts in the past few years. Lawyers should be careful when picking a jury in Harford County Upper Chesapeake Health is the second largest employer in that county, so chances are much of the jury pool will be employees or related to employees.

Sample Verdicts Against the Hospital
  • $1.7 Million Verdict. Plaintiff experiences pain is his knees. He visits the defendant, a board certified orthopedic surgeon, who makes the decision to have total knee replacement for both knees. The doctor - later defendant - successfully performs the first surgery on the plaintiff’s right knee. But plaintiff returns months later for the surgery on his left knee. He feels numbness and tingling in his left foot directly after the surgery. The defendant chooses not to perform an “ankle brachial index test” (ABI) to compare the blood pressure in the arm and leg. The defendant also chooses not to conduct a Doppler ultrasound which could assess the chances of a vascular complication, nor seeks the advice of a vascular surgeon. The plaintiff’s symptoms worsen and he returns to the defendant who decided to perform a Doppler examination. The examination shows no pedal pulses in the left leg or foot and after an ABI and other tests, the defendant finally consults a vascular surgeon. The defendant diagnoses “compartment syndrome” of the left calf and performs a fasciotomy to prevent possible muscle death. The fasciotomy is unsuccessful and the plaintiff is transferred to a medical center where vascular surgeons unsuccessfully perform an embolectomy (blood clot removal). The plaintiff’s left leg is amputated above the knee. The plaintiff files a malpractice action against the defendant with testimonies from two expert witnesses, board certified orthopedic and vascular surgeons, respectively. The vascular surgeon testifies the orthopedic surgeon was negligent for neither performing an ABI test nor a Doppler Ultrasound. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant appeals the case but the judgment is affirmed.
  • $10,000 Verdict. Plaintiff arrives at the hospital (Defendant) for carpal tunnel surgery. The plaintiff is intubated during the surgery. The plaintiff receives a burn on her trachea from a sterilization chemical that was not properly removed from the tube before being placed inside the plaintiff’s throat. The plaintiff alleges that due to the chemical burn she continues to suffer from a sore and inflamed throat. Plaintiff also alleges the defendant was negligent in the failure to properly rinse the chemical from the tube before the surgery. The defendant, while not denying the plaintiff being burned, disputes the allegations regarding the continued throat pain. The defendant testifies the plaintiff has a history of acid reflux and presents an otolaryngologist who testifies the plaintiff does not have residual problems and they are produced by the reflux. The jury reaches a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her only $10,000.
  • Defense Verdict. Plaintiff arrives at his primary care physician, complaining of shortness of breath and is advised to go to the emergency room. The physician diagnoses the plaintiff with possible pneumonia and contacts a doctor, the defendant. The doctor admits the plaintiff and prescribes him a respiratory treatment. The defendant then prescribes the plaintiff antibiotics and discharges him after seeing the plaintiff’s condition improve. The plaintiff’s condition worsens the following day and he returns to the hospital after being transported by paramedics. The plaintiff loses consciousness upon arriving to the hospital. The plaintiff is diagnosed with pneumonia caused by the microorganism, Klebsiella. He is placed on a respirator but does not regain consciousness. Upon the family’s request, the plaintiff is removed from the respirator. The plaintiff’s wife, acting as a representative of his estate, sues the hospital doctor and employer, alleging the defendants failed to properly diagnose her husband. Using a medical expert in internal medicine, she claims the prescribed antibiotic was not the effective choice for the plaintiff’s type of pneumonia and should not have been previously discharged by the hospital. The jury rendered in favor of the defense, stating the doctor and his employer were not negligent while treating the plaintiff.
  • $3.5 Million Verdict. Plaintiff undergoes a bypass procedure. During the procedure, complications arise, resulting in a spinal cord injury. The plaintiff experiences permanent lower extremity paralysis with loss of mobility. The plaintiff alleges the grafting technique used by the defendants was below the standard care requirement. Using a post-operative report of one of the defendants (a surgeon), she claims the paralysis was a result of massive blood loss caused by an oversized graft placed by the surgeons. Defendants, the surgeons and their employer, claim the reports submitted by the plaintiff were incorrect. The defendants claim that they are not liable for the plaintiff’s paralysis and indicate the grafting technique was appropriate for the surgery. They also deny blood loss caused the plaintiff’s paralysis, claiming the complication is a well-documented risk of clamping the aorta. The jury finds in favor of the plaintiff and awards her $3,557,398. (This case was reversed on appeal. See here and here.)
Upper Chesapeake Medical Center's Defense Team

Upper Chesapeake Medical Center usually uses Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP as counsel in malpractice claims against them.

Ordering Medical Records from Upper Chesapeake

The medical records are easily the most critical evidence for patients bringing a medical error lawsuit. These are used by plaintiffs' counsel to determine whether there is a good faith basis for a claim, and by their experts to determine whether the defendants violated the standard of care. Records from Upper Chesapeake Medical Center can be ordered from:

Upper Chesapeake Medical Center Quality and Health Information Department
500 Upper Chesapeake Drive
Bel Air, Maryland 21014
Fax: 443.643.2476

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