The influence of insurance companies, hospitals, healthcare providers and lobbyists on the medical negligence disposition system in Maryland and many other jurisdictions is profound. Medical malpractice cases are treated very differently from other negligence actions including legal malpractice.
Differential treatment of collateral sources, separate more limiting non-economic damages caps and the existence of additional hoops for victims of medical negligence to jump through are among the hurdles erected to hinder economic culpability on the part of healthcare providers.
It is against this backdrop that we briefly touch on misdiagnosis of small bowel obstruction and its deadly consequences. SBO is frequently misdiagnosed for a variety of reasons including the fact that it can be partial and its symptoms intermittent. Some medical misconceptions appear to hinder accurate diagnosis including misinterpretation of bowel sounds or their absence, use of abdominal x-ray results as dispositive of diagnosis and the presence of and/or location of abdominal pain.
Healthcare providers also ascribe more importance than wise to complete blood counts, rectal examinations and the severity of abdominal pain.
This has led to "one third or more cases of abdominal pain that come to operation presenting in a fashion that clinicians mistakenly regard as atypical representing the largest single reason that the error rate in the clinical diagnosis is so high." ( Tintinalli Emergency Medicine Fith Edition)
It is this error rate that can have fatal results. Among the cases handled by Clark and Steinhorn, LLC was one involving a partial small bowel obstruction that produced inconsistent symptoms that baffled Prince George's County, Maryland hospital physicians and resulted in a young man being discharged to his home where he aspirated on his own vomit and died.
Experts agreed at trial that use of abdominal x-rays was insufficient and that use of a CT scan would have in all likelihood saved this young man's life.
So the Maryland healthcare resolution system may make obtaining fair compensation difficult but not impossible.