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Man died, $10 million awarded in medical malpractice case

The incorrect administration of drugs is known to be one of the biggest areas of medical negligence in California and elsewhere. The issues that arise in such cases bring up the same questions of negligence and causation as in other medical malpractice cases. Whether any particular claim is a valid one will generally be determined after the plaintiff gets a review of the medical records and all other surrounding circumstances.

In a somewhat complicated case of drug causation, a jury awarded a family $10 million recently after concluding that the drug that the doctor gave to his patient caused the man's colon to self-destruct, resulting in his death. He went to the hospital in 2013 complaining of kidney problems. The doctor prescribed Kayexalate, a drug that is used to cut down the concentration of potassium in the body.

The plaintiff's attorney asserted that the doctor did not know the drug's sometimes fatal complications. This includes damage to the colon. The attorneys argued that the doctor could have used dialysis, which is a safer way to bring down the potassium levels. The defendant, the University of Maryland Medical System, issued a statement seeming to accuse the jury of deciding the case on sympathy. After administering the drug and later finding that there had been damage to the colon, doctors surgically removed the man's colon.

He died the next day in the defendant hospital. Despite the hospital's strong disagreement with the verdict, it is virtually impossible for the plaintiff to prevail in a case like this without presenting expert testimony from experts in the same field. One or more experts likely laid an evidentiary groundwork and justification for the jury's verdict by their testimony in court. The expert would explain to the jury how the drug caused the death, what factors constituted medical malpractice under the circumstances, and what the internal body dynamics were that caused the man's death. In California, the same facts would potentially justify a similar verdict.

Source:, "UMMS must pay family $10 million in malpractice suit", Andrea K. McDaniels, Sept. 22, 2016

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