On February 21, 2012, a medical malpractice jury in a conservative Maryland county determined that a Maryland orthopedic surgeon was responsible for the permanent injuries suffered by his former patient because the orthopedic surgeon allegedly failed to properly monitor and evaluate his patient’s post-operative care.
After a one-week trial, the medical malpractice jury awarded the surgeon’s former patient $1 million for his pain and suffering (which will be reduced to $650,000 under Maryland’s cap for non-economic damages that was in effect at the time of the alleged medical malpractice) and $350,000 for the man’s economic losses.
The man was a snowboarder who had fallen from a ski lift that resulted in a fracture of his tibia and fibula in his left leg. The orthopedic surgeon operated on the man two days later, during which he inserted a plate and screws to repair the fracture. About six weeks later, during the first follow up appointment after the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon fitted the man with a brace and advised him to use crutches. Two weeks later, the surgeon instructed the man to stop using the brace at night and that he could return to work about a week later.
One month later, during the next follow up appointment, the orthopedic surgeon fitted the man with a new brace. At the next follow up appointment three weeks later, the orthopedic surgeon instructed the man that he could increase his physical activities.
About two months after his last visit to his orthopedic surgeon, the man experienced pain in his left leg and two days later sought a second-opinion from another orthopedic surgeon. The second orthopedic surgeon ordered x-rays that indicated that the tibia fracture was not healing. Subsequent medical tests found that two of the screws placed by the first orthopedic surgeon were not solidly anchored. The second orthopedic surgeon placed the man in a walking boot.
The man alleged that as a result of substandard medical care by his first orthopedic surgeon, his left leg turns inward, he continues to have pain in his left leg, and he can only put weight on the outside of his left foot. He cannot climb steps and he cannot walk more than fifteen feet without using a walker or scooter.
The man filed his medical malpractice case against his first orthopedic surgeon, claiming that the orthopedic surgeon should have monitored him more frequently and should have ordered x-rays and CT scans during his follow up treatment to assess the positioning of the plate and screws and to assess and monitor his healing.
The medical malpractice case is captioned Richard Martinez v. Zia A. Zakai, et al., Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Case No.: 03-C-10009470.
Surgeons are not only required to perform surgery in a manner that meets the applicable standard of care, they are also required to provide proper follow up care to their patients after surgery. If a surgeon fails to meet the standard of care while performing surgery or when providing follow up care after surgery, the surgeon may be held responsible for the injuries and losses that result from his negligent medical care.
Medical malpractice attorneys can provide an essential service to possible medical malpractice victims by investigating whether the medical care rendered (or the medical care not provided) met the applicable standard of care required of the medical providers.
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