A Doctor’s Failure to Order Test to Diagnose Suspected Deadly Condition Results in Death; Calhoun County Jury Holds ER Doctor Accountable with $2 Million Verdict
BIRMINGHAM- Aug. 19, 2019– A Calhoun County jury on Friday ordered a former Regional Medical Center physician to pay $2 million in damages to a woman claiming his failure to diagnose her husband in 2014 caused his death.
Dr. Jesus Perez was found responsible by the jury for failing to order a color Doppler ultrasound for 60-year-old John Townsend after he was admitted to the ER. Townsend bled to death from a ruptured pseudoaneurysm the next morning.
The jury ordered Perez to pay $2 million in punitive damages to John Townsend’s wife, Angela, who filed the lawsuit in 2016. She initially filed the lawsuit against Perez, Dr. Brian Greene and RMC, but released RMC and settled with Greene for $1 Million.
Representing the family was Shay Samples and Ashley Peinhardt of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton; LLP. A reputable personal injury firm in Birmingham.
“This case was about accountability,” said Samples. “Dr. Perez refused to accept his professional responsibility for his role in causing John’s death. The jury spoke loud and clear that this kind of conduct is unacceptable. John’s death was preventable. Hopefully the jury’s verdict will prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again in the future.”
Townsend complained of a painful, softball-sized lump in his right groin before being admitted to the ER. Doctors gave Townsend a CT scan, which identified the lump as a fluid collection but did not perform the color Doppler ultrasound needed to diagnose the lump as a deadly pseudoaneurysm.
Townsend was subsequently discharged from the hospital at 11 p.m.
The next morning, Townsend’s pseudoaneurysm ruptured and he was taken back to RMC, where he died.
“Hopefully said Peinhardt, the verdict will make other doctors in Perez’s position think twice before failing to diagnose a patient.”
“I think the jury wanted to send the specific message that we talked about in closing arguments,” Peinhardt said. “That is, no ER doctor can discharge a patient when they suspect a deadly condition.”
Testimony from numerous doctors, who were either involved in the case or spoke as expert witnesses, showed how complex communication between numerous doctors collaborating on the care of a patient can become. The testimony also indicated how patients can get hurt because of miscommunication between doctors.
Angela Townsend said she has waited five years to see justice for her husband. She said she believed her husband was looking down on her and her family throughout the weeklong trial.
“I just don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” said Townsend. “That’s just plain and simple. There’s no sense in what we went through, and it needs to be taken care of.”
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