EASTON — A Talbot County Circuit Court jury, on Sept. 12, ordered a Mid-Shore Women’s Health physician to pay $150,000 in damages to a patient who suffered significant anatomical damage during what was expected to be a routine procedure.
The decision came nearly two years after the patient, Barbara McCloy, filed a malpractice lawsuit in December 2017 against obstetrician-gynecologist Sharon Liu, D.O., and Mid-Shore Women’s Health LLC.
McCloy cited negligence on Liu’s part and requested more than $950,000 in compensation for suffering “severe physical pain, emotional anguish ... fear and anxiety,” and a “permanently interrupted and damaged ... marriage” as a result of “anatomical devastation,” according to court documents.
Liu performed a diagnostic hysteroscopy on McCloy, then 73, on Nov. 4, 2016, during which she unintentionally injured McCloy’s uterine artery following an attempt to remove a polyp, or growth, she found on McCloy’s uterine wall.
Liu’s mistake put McCloy at risk for excessive bleeding and prompted her to remove two of McCloy’s reproductive organs, a kidney and a significant portion of one of her urinary organs, according court testimony.
Liu’s legal defense was that perforation of the uterus is an “unfortunate, but known complication of (polyp removal),” a risk of which McCloy was apprised before consenting to the operation, said Curtis Booth, Liu’s attorney.
Booth asserted Liu did not injure McCloy intentionally, adding she has performed many similar procedures without complications during her 20 years as a physician.
He said expert witnesses consulted during the trial were of the unanimous opinion that Liu’s response was “exactly what needed to happen once she experienced this complication.”
But the experts also testified the injuries McCloy sustained were avoidable, had Liu “complied with the applicable standards of care,” one physician wrote in an official statement.
The jury’s verdict in the case, which was delivered after six hours of deliberation and a deadlock notice to the judge, reflected indecision regarding whether McCloy experienced unfortunate complications or was the victim of malpractice.
Booth said it’s “often hard for people to differentiate between complications and malpractice,” and attributed McCloy’s reward of only a fraction of the damages she requested to this uncertainty.
James Cardea, who represented McCloy, said in a statement, “Mr. and Mrs. McCloy are very satisfied with the verdict.”
“Historically, it has been difficult to obtain plaintiff’s verdicts in malpractice cases in Talbot County, and that makes this verdict particularly gratifying for Mr. and Mrs. McCloy,” Cardea said.
In a statement, Booth said, “We firmly believe that Dr. Liu’s care and treatment was appropriate and that Mrs. McCloy experienced an unfortunate and very rare complication of a generally routine procedure.”
“Unfortunately, complications of medical treatment occur even in the best of hands and even when everything has been done properly or in a standard fashion,” he said. “Dr. Liu remains committed to providing quality care to the women of the Eastern Shore as she has for many years.”
Liu has been practicing medicine since 1999 and has been practicing obstetrics and gynecology at Mid-Shore Women’s Health for more than 15 years. Liu continues to practice out of the Easton office at 403 Purdy St.