Maryland Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $5.5M Jury Award

A Maryland jury has awarded $5.5 million in damages in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the daughter of a woman who died of blood loss after pacing wires meant to keep her heart beating correctly during surgery cut through a vein graft while being removed. 

The case was tried in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County by the Rodney Gaston, of the Maryland law firm Miller & Zois, LLC, involving a claim for medical malpractice brought on behalf of the daughter and estate of Velda Faye Richardson.

Richardson underwent cardiac bypass surgery on February 1, 2011, during which pacing wires were installed to regulate her heart rate during recovery. However, when a nurse went to remove the wires several days later, Richardson became short of breath and began to bleed profusely, telling the nurse that she thought she was dying shortly before becoming unconscious.

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One or more of the wires cut through her vein graft when they were removed, causing Richardson to begin bleeding to death and preventing blood from reaching her heart. Emergency surgery failed to repair the damage and the family alleged that Richardson’s death was caused by medical malpractice.

During the trial, none of the members of the surgical team could recall who installed the pacing wires and the medical records failed to document the information. The surgeon in charge could not remember where the wires were placed or even how many.

According to a blog post by Ron Miller, a senior partner with Miller & Zois, the family received no settlement offers prior to trial.

While the defendants attempted to argue that since no one knew who placed the wires that there was no way to prove they were placed incorrectly, the jury unanimously awarded $5.55 million in damages, which will likely be reduced under Maryland caps on non-ecomonic damages.


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