$5.2 Million Verdict in Baltimore City Emergency Room Error Medical Malpractice Case

Share Article

A Baltimore City jury awarded a Miller & Zois Client $5.2 million in a failure to diagnose ER case that lead to a below knee amputation.

"We have never had a kinder or more deserving client."

A unanimous jury in Baltimore City awarded a $5.2 million verdict for the Plaintiff in a medical negligence case on Friday, May 23, 2014. The case was brought by Kevin Tolson, Sr., a lifelong resident of Baltimore City, on behalf of himself. Mr. Tolson was represented by Laura G. Zois and Rodney M. Gaston of Miller & Zois, LLC.

According to court documents, this case dealt with the failure to properly diagnose a knee dislocation. On December 3, 2009, Mr. Tolson was leaving his job when he was injured by a loading dock gate that had accidentally been activated as he was walking across it. The gate sits below ground-level when not in use, and upon activation, springs up from the ground and creates a barrier to prevent vehicles from entering the loading dock. When the gate was activated, Mr. Tolson’s left leg became trapped and twisted in the gate, which caused his knee to become momentarily dislocated. Mr. Tolson was taken to St. Agnes Hospital by ambulance. When he arrived at the hospital, he was triaged and sent to the Urgent Care division of the emergency department. He was diagnosed with a “knee sprain.”

The evidence in this case revealed that the Physician’s Assistant (“PA”) who evaluated Mr. Tolson noted several serious symptoms in his medical chart, including numbness of the leg, paresthesia (i.e., tingling or other sensations), and sharp pain. Mr. Tolson also informed the PA that he could not move his foot. At trial, the PA admitted that she suspected Mr. Tolson had dislocated his knee, but besides an x-ray, she did not order any diagnostic tests to rule-out the suspected dislocation. Further, the PA did not evaluate the range of movement of Mr. Tolson’s left leg, and the only neurovascular assessment performed was a manual check for a pulse in his left leg. Based upon this information, and in light of the severe symptoms that Mr. Tolson expressed, the PA diagnosed him with a simple knee sprain.

After the evaluation by the PA, Mr. Tolson was also allegedly evaluated by the only physician working in the Urgent Care department at the time. The physician testified that she agreed with all the findings of the PA, and that she agreed with the knee sprain diagnosis. Interestingly, there was no evidence in Mr. Tolson’s medical chart that he was actually evaluated by this physician. Furthermore, the Urgent Care physician signed Mr. Tolson’s medical chart a full ten days after he was seen at the hospital.    

According to the Plaintiff's Complaint, Mr. Tolson was discharged from the hospital, but two days later, he returned to St. Agnes with continued complaints of numbness and pain. He also expressed that he had no feeling in his left foot. At this time, it was finally discovered that Mr. Tolson has torn nearly all of the ligaments and tendons in his knee, and that the dislocation had caused a tear in his popliteal artery. For two days, Mr. Tolson’s leg had not been receiving enough blood, and the tissues in his leg and foot were dead. Although two attempts were made to save Mr. Tolson’s leg, he was transferred to University of Maryland Hospital where he underwent an above-the-knee leg amputation.

At trial, the jury learned that the standard of medical care requires that when one suspects a knee dislocation, diagnostic tests should be performed to rule-out an injury to the popliteal artery, the main artery that supplies blood to the knee and muscles of the leg. One of the Plaintiff’s vascular surgeon experts, Dr. Rajabrata Sarkar, testified that had any diagnostic tests been performed while Mr. Tolson was in the emergency room, those tests would have revealed the injury to the popliteal artery, and the artery could have been repaired. Essentially, Plaintiff's central argument was that had the diagnostic tests been performed, Mr. Tolson would not have needed a leg amputation.

After hearing two weeks of trial testimony, the jury deliberated for 3 hours and returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Tolson. In response to the verdict, Plaintiff’s Counsel, Laura G. Zois said, “We are thrilled the jury was able to bring about justice in this case. We have never had a kinder or more deserving client. Both Mr. Tolson and his family are absolutely amazing people."

The case was tried against the Physician’s Assistant and the Physician who were both found to be negligent.

The case was Tolson v. St. Agnes. The Baltimore City Circuit Court case number was 24-C-12-008071.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Ron Miller
Follow us on
Visit website