Family Sues Um Medical Center In Death

July 30, 2009|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,

The family of a Westminster man who died after lung transplant surgery last year has filed a wrongful-death suit against the University of Maryland Medical Center and a subcontractor for what they say was a botched procedure.

According to the lawsuit, the family of Bryan Harris alleges that a contracted staffer incorrectly removed a clamp after the surgery in June 2008, allowing all of the patient's blood to drain into a bucket.

Harris, 51, is survived by his wife, his parents and two children. "They're devastated by the loss of a loved family member who should not have died," said their attorney, Michael Warshaw of Baltimore.

The staffer is not named in the suit because it's not clear who was at fault, the attorney said. Two employees, known as perfusionists, were working during the surgery, and another came to relieve them after the procedure.

Warshaw said the family was initially told that Harris died of natural causes. However, the surgeon's report indicated that the clamp had been removed after the surgery. The suit alleges that the hospital also reported to the state medical examiner's office that the cause of death as "multiple system organ failure."

"Not only had [Harris' wife] not been told, but the medical examiner's office was not provided the information about what was the true cause of death," Warshaw said.

The medical examiner later altered the death certificate to list the cause of death as acute blood loss.

The perfusionists worked for the Coalition of Perfusion Services Inc. The company could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, represenatives of the University of Maryland Medical Center said: "We have been aware of this matter since the time of the sad and unfortunate event. Since that time, we have had ongoing conversations with the Harris family and their attorneys. We are disappointed that suit has now been filed in light of our efforts toward an amiable resolution."

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