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Maryland Physician Appealing Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Decision

On September 12, 2008, Arvia Johnson filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. H. Jeffrey Schwartz in Maryland, contending that the physician had committed negligence in an outpatient colonoscopy surgery. After a 5-day trial, the jury ruled in Johnson’s favor and he was awarded a settlement of $23,791.19 for his medical costs, as well as an additional $650,000 for non-economic damages and pain and suffering.

Johnson claimed that Dr. Schwartz was negligent in failing to inform Johnson of certain risks and side effects to his colonoscopy treatment. After his surgery, Johnson contended that he was left with a perforated colon due to the physician’s mistreatment, and he dealt with a significant amount of pain and discomfort as a result. Additionally, Johnson was forced to make multiple visits to other doctors to receive treatment for the surgical error.

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However, on June 27, Dr. Schwartz’s attorneys filed an appeal based on three points of contention:

  1. Schwartz’s attorneys believe that the judge ignored their pleas to include evidence that the physician had appropriately warned Johnson of the potential risks of the specific colonoscopy procedure that he was undergoing.
  2. They also believe that one of the jurors hindered Schwartz’s chances of a fair trial by regularly arriving late to the courtroom and seeming aloof during the actual trial. They believe that said juror conducted himself in an inappropriate manner, showed a clear bias toward the patient, and he should have been replaced.
  3. Johnson’s attorneys provided a medical expert that presented information relevant to the case that had not previously been revealed to Schwartz’s lawyers. Schwartz’s team believes that this was an abuse of the court’s discretion and disallowed suitable time to prepare for cross-examination.

Johnson argued and will argue again that Schwartz failed to inform him that one of the risks that he faced as a result of his procedure was Short Bowel Syndrome, which Johnson is currently receiving regular treatment for with other physicians.

SBS most commonly occurs when the small intestine is either partially or fully removed, and it also occurs rarely at child birth. It can also occur as the result Chron’s disease, tissue death in the intestines, tumors, premature newborn birth (in women, obviously), bypass surgery for obese patients, and other various surgeries for injury and disease.

However, in Johnson’s case, it occurred as the result of one of the surgeon’s utensils touching and breaking the wall of Johnson’s colon, which led to trauma in both the colon and small intestine. Symptoms of SBS include stomach pains, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.

Source:
Maryland Courts

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