October 20, 2015, PNLR E-Newsletter
Late diagnosis of duodenal ulcer
Suit alleged that two gastroenterologists failed to timely diagnose the ulcer, resulting in the patient developing short bowel syndrome and other complications. The jury awarded $28.4 million. Stern v. Johnson-Futrell.
Gary Stern, 47, was admitted to a hospital, complaining of a three-day history of nausea and vomiting and severe upper abdominal pain. A CT scan revealed inflammation of the colon. Gastroenterologist Steven Epstein diagnosed an exacerbation of Stern’s Crohn’s disease. Two days after his discharge, Stern saw gastroenterologist Todd Heller. He confirmed the diagnosis and placed Stern on steroids and anti-inflammatory medication.
Less than two weeks later, Stern returned to the hospital complaining of persistent left upper quadrant pain; subsequent surgery revealed a perforated duodenal ulcer. As a result, Stern suffered various medical problems, including sepsis, and required a dozen surgeries over the next 19 months. He now suffers from short bowel syndrome and requires a feeding tube as well as a pain pump to treat his chronic pain.
Stern and his wife sued the two gastroenterologists and their practice, alleging failure to timely diagnose the duodenal ulcer. Suit did not claim lost income.
The jury awarded about $28.4 million. Posttrial motions are pending.
Citation: Stern v. Johnson –Futrell, No. 24C14001173 (Md. Cir. Ct. Baltimore City Sept. 15, 2015).
Plaintiff counsel: Michael Warshaw, Baltimore; and AAJ member Jay Miller, Towson, Md.