Verdict Affirms Patient's Right to Know

Spangenberg attorney Peter H. Weinberger recently upheld that tradition when they obtained a $2.7 million dollar verdict on behalf of Deborah and Mark Neifer in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. For over 65 years, Spangenberg Shibley & Liber has been fighting for the rights of patients and going to trial when necessary to ensure that those injured by negligent physicians are fully and fairly compensated.

In early 2010, Mrs. Neifer – a wife, mother and waitress at a Cleveland-area Friendly’s – was placed on a combination of drugs to treat her rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While these drugs can be effective in treating RA, they both carry a risk of causing serious lung injury. Yet when just seven months later an x-ray ordered by her rheumatologist, Carlos Zevallos, M.D., showed early signs of interstitial lung disease, he did not inform her about the x-ray, did not warn her about the risk of the drugs exacerbating her lung injury, and did not take her off the medications. Consequently, less than a year later Ms. Neifer became unable to breathe and was rushed to the emergency room. She learned then that she had developed terminal lung disease and spent months in the hospital.

The Neifers’ situation is a tragedy and there is no amount of money that can set something like this right. But hopefully a lesson can be learned from the situation – that patient safety and informed consent are important, that juries know they are important, and that doctors who do not prioritize patient safety and respect a patient’s right to be informed regarding their health care will be held accountable.
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