Fam­ily awarded $10 mil­lion in malpractice suit

Baltimore Sun - - AROUND THE REGION - By An­drea K. McDaniels am­c­daniels@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ankwalker

A Bal­ti­more jury awarded a Gwynn Oak fam­ily $10 mil­lion this week af­ter find­ing the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem gave their rel­a­tive a drug that de­stroyed his colon and led to his death.

The fam­ily of Den­nis Allen said he died in 2013 af­ter doc­tors gave him Kayex­alate, which is used on peo­ple who have too much potas­sium in their body. The drug pulls potas­sium from the blood into the colon, where it is then re­leased through a bowel move­ment.

A Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Cen­ter doc­tor who pre­scribed the drug for Allen didn’t know the com­pli­ca­tions it causes, in­clud­ing some­times harm­ing the colon, the fam­ily’s lawyers ar­gued in court. They also said he could have used dial­y­sis, which they ar­gued is a safer op­tion, to bring down the potas­sium lev­els.

The Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tem said in a state­ment that it was “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed” by the ver­dict, which it said ap­pears was based on sym­pa­thy. The med­i­cal sys­tem said it plans to ap­peal the case.

“We main­tain our po­si­tion that not only was the care ren­dered to Mr. Allen stel­lar, but that the Plain­tiff’s case was wholly lack­ing in ev­i­dence that met the req­ui­site le­gal stan­dard,” the state­ment said. “The jury in­ac­cu­rately con­cluded that Mr. Allen died due to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of one dose of Kayex­alate — the stan­dard of care given to tens of mil­lions of pa­tients for the con­di­tion from which Mr. Allen suf­fered.”

At­tor­ney Laura Zois said Allen’s fam­ily was happy that the med­i­cal sys­tem was held ac­count­able and they hoped the ver­dict helped pre­vent other pa­tients from be­ing harmed.

“The fam­ily felt vin­di­cated that their fa­ther and hus­band’s story was fi­nally told,” Zois said. “Other­wise, their fa­ther’s death would have been in vain.”

Allen was ad­mit­ted to the Univer­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Cen­ter in March 2013 be­cause of kid­ney prob­lems, Zois said. Dur­ing his stay, he de­vel­oped high potas­sium lev­els and doc­tors gave him Kayex­alate.

Af­ter tak­ing the drug, Allen’s wife no­ticed blood in his stool. Zois said it took sev­eral hours be­fore med­i­cal staff con­ducted tests and de­ter­mined some­thing was wrong with his colon.

Allen went into surgery with the fam­ily ex­pect­ing that parts of his colon would be re­moved, but doc­tors had to re­move the whole or­gan, Zois said. He died the day af­ter surgery. The fam­ily sued last year. A 2009 study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Emer­gency Medicine said that “colonic necro­sis” — or cell death — is a “rare, but po­ten­tially avoid­able” side ef­fect of Kayex­alate. vi­o­lence in June, one year af­ter the killing. Paye, a 51-year-old con­trac­tor, was found shot to death in his garage on July1, 2015, but po­lice be­lieve he was killed June 19. Paye and Grif­fin were in a cus­tody dis­pute and Paye was sup­posed to have a one­week visit with the child at the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance. Grif­fin had vis­ited Mary­land for a job in­ter­view, flown back to Michi­gan and re­turned to Mary­land by car, of­fi­cials said.

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