Hospital, doctors cleared in death of Shady Side man

November 08, 1995

Anne Arundel Medical Center and two of its doctors were cleared of any wrongdoing yesterday in the death of a Shady Side man, who died five months after cataract surgery at the hospital.

A county Circuit Court jury decided that Dr. Robert H. Noel of Edgewater, Dr. John E. Distelhorst of Annapolis and the medical center staff were not responsible for the Aug. 14, 1992, death of Joseph Tongue, 54.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner, who presided over the trial, assessed the plaintiffs $5,000 in costs incurred in having the case heard by a panel of the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office, a required first-step in medical malpractice cases. The HCAO panel also ruled in favor of the hospital and the doctors.

Mr. Tongue, a diabetic, was admitted to the hospital for surgery on his right eye March 17, 1992, on the advice of Dr. Noel, an ophthalmologist, according to the suit. Dr. Distelhorst was Mr. Tongue's anesthesiologist.

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