The family of a man who died as a result of a doctor’s failure to diagnose that he was suffering hemorrhagic shock has been awarded $2.5 million in damages by a Maryland jury.
The Maryland malpractice lawsuit was filed by the family of Lawrence Dixon, 59, who died on May 17, 2007, two days after fracturing his pelvis in a fall. The lawsuit initially included Montgomery General Hospital and other staff members, but eventually the lawsuit was narrowed down to just the primary care physician.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, Dr. David Harding failed to notice Dixon was bleeding internally when he examined him. The family alleged that if Dr. Harding had noticed the internal bleeding he could have saved Dixon’s life, but as a result of the failure to diagnose the bleeding, Dixon ultimately died of multiple organ failure.
There were a number of signs Harding should have heeded that would have alerted him to the problem, argued Maryland malpractice lawyer Rodney M. Gaston, of Miller & Zois LLC, who represented Dixon’s wife Kathleen, and their two children, Michael Dixon and Elizabeth Lessig. One of those signs was that Dixon had not produced urine in 24 hours. He also had a rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure and was losing lucidity, all of which should have clued Harding in on Dixon’s blood loss, the attorney argued.
The defense claimed that Dixon died because of a medication known as kayexalate. It is a thick drink that reduces high potassium levels. Harding’s attorneys argued in court that Dixon drank the shake and it went directly into his lungs, cutting off oxygen. However, Harding made no mention of it on Dixon’s death certificate.
The Montgomery County Circuit Court jury awarded Dixon’s estate and his wife each $1 million in non-economic damages. They also awarded his children $250,000 each. Due to Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages, the total award will likely be reduced to $812,500, which will be divided among the plaintiffs by the judge in post-trial motions.