$3.35 million for family of girl who died after doctors delayed


Two and a half years ago, in a story published in The Evening Sun, this columnist raised questions about the medical treatment Tiffany Troch received over the last 13 1/2 hours of her life.

It was April 16, 1992, when Tiffany, the 13-year-old daughter of Mark and Debbie Troch, and an honor student at Perry Hall Middle School, slipped off a rope swing near her suburban home. FTC With their daughter complaining of abdominal pains caused by the 8-foot fall, the Troches drove her to St. Joseph Hospital (now Medical Center) in Towson. Tiffany walked into the emergency room at 5 o'clock on Holy Thursday evening. She was pronounced dead at 6:20 Good Friday morning. Her parents were stunned, then numbed, then angry. The pain Debbie and Mark Troch felt was compounded by questions about their daughter's treatment in a hospital they had trusted.

When the Troches first described their ordeal at the hospital, they alleged that delays in the diagnosis and treatment of their daughter's lacerated liver had caused her condition to deteriorate to a point from which recovery was impossible. They claimed that the two doctors who examined her, Kerry Heemann and Sheldon Lerman, had not done enough to prevent shock. A third doctor, summoned to St. Joe's some three hours after Tiffany arrived there, performed emergency surgery, trying in vain to save her. "Essentially, this child bled to death," said Marvin Ellin, the attorney who handled the Troch family's negligence claim against Heemann, Lerman, St. Joe's and the physician's association that runs its emergency room.

Last December, an arbitration panel ruled that the actions of all defendants breached standards of medical care and contributed to Tiffany's death. The panel awarded the Troches $4.35 million in damages.

The defendants appealed that award to Baltimore County Circuit Court. Judge Christian Kahl presided over a trial that lasted a month. Friday, after more than seven hours of deliberation, a jury affirmed the arbitration panel's finding, but excused the hospital. The attorney for St. Joe's, John Penhallegon, convinced jurors that Heemann was not an employee of St. Joe's and, instead, was employed by Osler Drive Emergency Physicians Associates. That group provides physician staff for the St. Joe emergency room. No one from the staff of the hospital itself was shown to be negligent. The hospital, therefore, bore no responsibility, even indirectly, for Tiffany's death. Accordingly, the jury reduced the damage award to the Troch family to $3.35 million.

"They tried to get us to settle several months ago," Debbie Troch said yesterday. "But we wouldn't. This was not about money for us. It was about finding these doctors negligent, getting to the truth and bringing all this out to the public."

In memory of Ryan

Here's another follow-up, this one on Ryan McDonnell, the 13-year-old gifted-and-talented student from Arbutus Middle School who was killed when he was struck by two vehicles while riding his bicycle. In May, I noted that friends had been raising money for a scholarship fund for his fraternal twin, Sean. Now, a further tribute: The Maiden Choice Community Association is preparing to turn a vacant lot on Leeds Avenue into a park in Ryan's memory. Groundbreaking is Oct. 16.

Something up their sleeves

Do I see, standing behind the drapes, a certain politically connected consultant and a certain politically connected ad agency nudging both the governor of Maryland and the mayor of Baltimore to push for a study of casino gambling? Some fine ole hands are rocking this cradle, folks. Stay tuned.

The mystery continues

Everywhere I go, people ask about that mystery woman who dropped a bunch of roses on my pal James just after he parked his car in the parking lot at the Pizza Hut in Columbia. The woman stepped out of her Acura Legend, walked up to James and said, "Here, give these to someone you like because I don't like the someone who gave them to me." (No, it wasn't Kathleen Turner.) The woman waved once as she disappeared into traffic. James was dumbfounded. And curious. We're still waiting for the rest of the story, hoping to hear from either Madame du Rose or Monsieur Le Sap, the guy who gave her the roses. So far, we've heard only from a doctor who gave a Columbia woman some roses and was concerned she may have dumped them on James. But the doc's roses were the wrong color (pink) and he gave them in the wrong month (July). For the record, James got red roses and the date of his intriguing interlude was Sept. 15. This Just In wants to know more, so call 332-6166. Confidentiality guaranteed.

Downhill all the way

Rusty Kelly looked out the kitchen window of her house on East Timonium Road the other day and saw something small and "critterly" crawling down the hill at the rear of her yard. Was it an injured bird? A turtle? No, it was your basic Chesapeake Bay blue crab. Lost. And ramblin'. Had the crab escaped from a neighbor's steam pot? Not that Rusty could determine. Had it come from the yard behind her? Not likely. That house has been vacant a while. "I think it had traveled quite a distance," Rusty said. I wish I could tell you that Rusty returned the crab to the bay. Instead, her daughter, Maureen, took it to a York Road seafood carryout, where, I'm sure its ramblin' ways and rovin' days ended.

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