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Jury Clears Radiologist In $1.3 Million Verdict

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A jury in Frederick County, Maryland, awarded $1.3 million to the family of a 77-year-old woman in a wrongful-death case against a doctor, but found that a radiologist who was also named in the lawsuit did not violate the accepted standard of care.

The jury returned the verdict earlier this month against Hiren Shah, MD, for his treatment of Evelyn Reynolds, according to the Frederick News-Post. Reynolds, who was 77, fell in the driveway of her daughter’s home on March 6, 2007. An ambulance took her to Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Maryland. Dr. Shah, who worked at Reynolds’ doctor’s office, was called in after physicians in the emergency room diagnosed her with a bruise and were set to release her.

Dr. Shah ordered two CT scans, with radiologist Razwana Afzal, MD, reading both. Dr. Afzal found that the second scan showed evidence of at least one and possibly two fractured vertebrae. Dr. Afzal testified that she told Dr. Shah of the results over the phone and mentioned the importance of keeping Reynolds immobilized.

Dr. Shah testified that he didn’t remember getting the call. Reynolds was not immobilized. On March 9, she reported that she had no feeling in her legs or feet. An MRI showed that her condition had worsened. She was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center┬áin Baltimore for spinal fusion surgery. She never regained feeling in her lower body. She died on July 30, 2007, as a result of an infection at the surgical site.

The jury said Dr. Shah should pay Reynolds’ family $1,341,000 for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering. It exonerated Dr. Afzal. Paul D. Bekman, attorney for the family, said:

I think the jury was persuaded that when an emergency doctor sees a patient and orders tests, there’s an obligation on that physician to follow up.

M. Natalie McSherry, attorney for Dr. Shah, said that her client provided appropriate care and that Dr. Shah was considering an appeal. She said Reynolds died because of the surgery, not because of anything that Dr. Shah did or didn’t do. In any case, McSherry said, the award would be reduced to $719,000 because it exceeded the maximum amount allowed by state law.

More information on the case can be found here.

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