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News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Upper Chesapeake found negligent in Pylesville woman's death; family awarded $958,258 in damages

A Harford County jury found Upper Chesapeake Health Center negligent in the 2010 death of a Pylesville woman and ordered the hospital to pay her family $958,258, in an Aug. 7 verdict.

The family of Beverly Ann Gargiulo claimed Upper Chesapeake erroneously advised Ms. Gargiulo she would need hospice care after being admitted to be treated for infected ulcers in February 2010, according to a suit filed in Dec. 2011. Upper Chesapeake officials did not immediately return phone calls for comment Thursday.

"Ms. Gargiulo was physically and mentally incapable of understanding and appreciating the nature of that information when communicated to her. The hospital never communicated that information to Ms. Gargiulo's family," her family's attorney Mark Mixter wrote in the claim.

During her treatment, Ms. Gargiulo was given "excessive amounts of narcotics" for pain, in increasing amounts and with increasing frequency.

"The combination of narcotics, combined with the increased dosages administered and the decrease in the length of time between each administration of the narcotics eventually led to Ms. Gargiulo's death on March 1, 2010," Mixter said in the claim, noting that the pain relief was more appropriate for care for a patient about to die than for a person who is expected to be rehabilitated and discharged.

"Ms. Gargiulo's medical condition did not warrant palliative treatment and in fact there was no medical reason that Ms. Gargiulo could not have lived to an average female life expectancy," he wrote.

The family had sought a judgment in the amount of $2 million, claiming the hospital's negligence caused her husband and two children mental anguish, emotional pain and other related suffering.

The family also claimed the hospital performed unnecessary surgeries for her ulcers and that she suffered severe conscious pain, difficulty breathing, discomfort and suffering before her death.

The jury ruled the hospital was negligent and the negligence was the cause of Ms. Gargiulo's death or her prior pain and suffering. The family received $300,000 in non-economic damages to her husband, $300,000 to each of their children and $8,238 in economic damages.

Mixter was unavailable in time for this article, and Ms. Gargiulo's husband declined to comment on the verdict.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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