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August 5, 2012: Family settles lawsuit over fatal blood clot
Daily Record, The (Baltimore, MD) - Sunday, August 5, 2012
Author: Steve Lash
The family of a 48-year-old man will receive $5 million from a health care provider in settlement of its claim that medical malpractice led to his death from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism after routine ankle surgery, the family’s attorneys stated in a press release that was also posted to the firm’s website on Thursday.
The man arrived for “a post-surgical follow-up visit” complaining of shortness of breath and cast tightness, “two classic warning signs of a blood clot in the legs that can break off and become a blood clot in the lungs (a pulmonary embolism),” the release stated. “Despite these clear warning signs, the health care providers dismissed his concerns and sent him home.”
He died “less than 72 hours later” from “a massive pulmonary embolism,” the release added.
Andrew G. Slutkin, an attorney for the family, declined to provide any additional details beyond those in the release from his firm, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC in Baltimore.
However, an independent review of court records, including the factual allegations in the complaint, the plaintiffs’ law firm and the month in which the settlement was reached, indicates that the decedent was Jason B. Harper Sr., who worked as an attorney and tax partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Harper’s wife, children, parents and estate sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States Inc. and Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group P.C., which is part of Kaiser .
According to the complaint filed Oct. 13, 2010, in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, Harper, 48, broke his right ankle in an accident at his home on Jan. 25, 2009. A Kaiser physician operated on the ankle that day at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.
Harper, his ankle in a cast, was sent home and a “follow-up visit” was scheduled for Feb. 13, 2009, the complaint stated.
Harper complained of having difficulty breathing and said his cast felt tight on the morning of his follow-up visit, according to the complaint.
Those symptoms are signs of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots that “can break off and travel to the lungs, at which point they are called pulmonary emboli” and can cause death, the complaint stated.
But Kaiser health-care providers who saw him and heard his concerns that day ordered no tests before sending Harper home, the complaint added.
Harper went into pulmonary and cardiac arrest three days later. Paramedics were called, and they transferred him to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, where he was pronounced dead, according to the complaint.
An autopsy by Maryland’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded that Harper died of “a massive saddle pulmonary embolism,” the complaint added.
Kaiser denied the allegations of negligence in its court filings, and a settlement generally is not an admission of wrongdoing.
Kaiser was represented by attorneys Larry A. Ceppos and Jeremy R. Krum of Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades Chtd. in Rockville. Neither Ceppos nor Krum returned repeated telephone messages Friday regarding the case. Kaiser ’s public relations department also did not return telephone messages left Friday.
Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Crystal Dixon Mittelstaedt dismissed the lawsuit on Jan. 24, noting the parties’ joint stipulation of dismissal.
A review of probate records Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court showed the estate of Jason Bruce Harper Sr. was opened March 11, 2009, and closed on July 9. The fourth and final administration account, filed June 22, shows the estate received $18,717.37 for “Settlement from Malpractice Suit payable to the Estate.”
Payments to the other plaintiffs in the Harper settlement are unknown, as they were not claims of the estate.
DAWN MORTON ET AL. V. KAISER FOUNDATION HEALTH PLAN OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES INC. ET AL.
Prince George’s County Circuit Court
Crystal Dixon Mittelstaedt
Event: Feb. 13-16, 2009
Suit filed: Oct. 13, 2010
Dismissal order: Jan. 24, 2012
Andrew G. Slutkin and Jamison G. White of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC in Baltimore.
Larry A. Ceppos and Jeremy R. Krum of Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades Chtd. in Rockville.
Survivor action/medical malpractice and wrongful death.
Index Terms: Legal activity (lawsuits etc.); News
Record Number: 783091
Copyright, 2012, The Daily Record (Baltimore, MD)