Hospital, orthopedic surgeon share liability in $6.3M verdict, court rules

Alan Condon -  

A federal court ruled that Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., is on the hook for a $6.3 million medical malpractice verdict with an ER orthopedic surgeon who operated as an independent contractor at the facility, The Maryland Daily Record reported Aug. 8.

Attorneys for Prince George's argued the hospital should not be liable because the surgeon, Montague Blundon, MD, was not an employee of the hospital when he was found negligent for delayed treatment of a car crash victim's leg, which was later amputated. The patient had vascular, bone and muscle injuries after the crash and allegedly waited more than four hours in the ER before he was seen by Dr. Blundon, the on-call orthopedic surgeon.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Blundon failed to properly treat the patient's compound fracture, which was noticed three days later when another surgeon performed a procedure to try to save his leg but found too much deterioration had occurred.

The hospital was initially off the hook from sharing liability in the verdict because Dr. Blundon was an independent contractor, but an appellate court overturned the lower court's decision.

In a 5-2 decision in July, the appellate court ruled Prince George's liability "rests not on its contractual relationship with the surgeon "but on the patient's reasonable perception that the physician was acting at the hospital's behest," according to the Daily Record.

According to court documents, the verdict against the hospital and Dr. Blundon included the following economic damages: $5 million for attendant care; $550,000 for prosthetic leg costs; $210,857 for durable medical equipment; and $165,000 for case management.

Prince George's and Dr. Blundon denied the allegations of malpractice, the news outlet said.

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