Taylorsville Couple Sues Doctors Over Son's Misdiagnosis

1989 Mistake Led To Investigation For Child Abuse, 'Distress,' Suit Says

March 18, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

A Taylorsville couple has sued four Carroll County General Hospital doctors, claiming a misdiagnosis of their son's infection led to a child abuse investigation that has left the couple mired in anxiety andoutrage for more than three years.

The $2 million lawsuit, filed in both Carroll Circuit Court and the Health Claims Arbitration Office, says David and Marsha Hodge "have suffered severe emotional distress, which has deeply affected them at several levels, including theirrelationship with their child (and their) relationship with each other."

The 1989 diagnosis -- a fracture of their infant son Joseph's right wrist -- caused Carroll General doctors Michael S. Rosner and Myles D. Brager to report the possibility of child abuse to the Carroll County Department of Social Services.

And while a mandatory investigation by social services officials found no basis for any allegationof child abuse on the part of the Hodges, that investigation and theinitial accusation have not been purged from state files.

The prematurely born infant was not given any treatment until the investigation was completed, and it wasn't until four days later that a Baltimore doctor diagnosed -- and surgically treated -- him for osteomyelitis, a bone and skin infection often caused by the use of intravenous tubes, the suit says.

The misdiagnosis not only caused Joseph much pain and discomfort, but the aftermath of the child abuse investigation -- and years of unsuccessfully trying to gain access to and destruction of their state files -- has also led to post-traumatic stress for the Hodges, the suit says.

Defendants in the lawsuit are Rosner, Brager and Brager's partners, as well as Neil J. Borelli and John T. Pfeiffer, and their employer, Carroll Imaging Associates. Borelli and Pfeiffer were responsible for reading the X-rays of Joseph's wrist, and concurred with Rosner's and Brager's diagnosis.

For the Hodges, the suit is the latest in a series of legal battles over the treatment of Joseph that night.

In a $1.5 million suit filed in U.S. District Court, the Hodges are seeking to have the abuse allegation records expunged. Named in that suit are Carroll County Department of Social Services Director Alex M. Jones, Assistant Director Alan L. Katz and Carolyn W. Colvin, secretary of the state agency that oversees social services.

"There are no governmental purposes for retainingthose records," Hodge said yesterday from his Frederick office. "This is the kind of thing they do in a socialist state. We can't have bureaucrats and state officials keeping incorrect information on file."

Hodge said that the experience has left him angry and frustrated.

"You should have a right to challenge a file the government keepson you," he said. Both he and his wife have suffered insomnia, DavidHodge is afraid to pick up his son or to feed him and Marsha Hodge has told her psychologist that she felt like committing suicide when the child abuse charge was made, the suit said.

The negligence suitwill be heard first by a Health Claims Arbitration Board, said Geoffrey S. Black, a Manchester attorney who filed the suit in late January.

Benjamin Vaughan, the Rockville attorney representing the doctors, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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