A Baltimore medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $1.5 million on April 29, 2016, after five days of trial and almost six hours of jury deliberations, finding that the defendant ENT had failed to obtain the plaintiff’s informed consent for a medical procedure. However, the Baltimore medical malpractice jury found that the defendant ENT had not breached the standard of care in performing the medical procedure.
The Baltimore medical malpractice jury awarded the 72-year-old plaintiff $1 million in noneconomic damages, which will be reduced to $725,000 pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases that was in effect at the time of the incident, along with $186,000 in past medical expenses and $349,000 in future medical expenses. The defendant reportedly had made no settlement offer before trial.
The Alleged Facts
The plaintiff had been referred to the defendant ENT by her primary care physician due to blood tests that indicated that she may have an inflamed pancreas. The defendant ENT performed an endoscopic ultrasound after which the woman was handed an image from the ultrasound with the word “mass” written on it and another image that contained the word “tumor.” The defendant ENT contended that he had provided the woman with a report that indicated that there was no mass or tumor on her pancreas.
The defendant ENT recommended that the woman have a procedure known as ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), which is associated with a known risk of pancreatitis. The defendant ENT performed the ERCP on April 26, 2013. The woman was under the impression that the ERCP was being performed to confirm the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The defendant ENT testified during trial that he had advised the woman that the purpose of the ERCP was to remove scar tissue or a blockage from her pancreatic duct and to brush for cancer cells.
The plaintiff alleged that the real purpose of the ERCP was therapeutic, that there was a very low probability of successfully obtaining a tissue sample that could determine if she had pancreatic cancer, and that she would not have agreed to undergo the ERCP, which is a risky procedure with a high risk of complications, had the defendant ENT properly advised her regarding the true nature of her condition.
As a result of having the ERCP procedure, the woman suffered serious complications, including pancreatitis that required four hospitalizations. She developed Type 2 diabetes as a result, for which she requires insulin injections. She must also use supplemental enzymes to properly digest her food.
Source Saffer v. Noar, et al., Circuit Court for Batimore County, Case No. 03C15000350.
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