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Informed Consent Issue in Maryland Medical Malpractice – Spangler v. Mcquitty

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Birth injuries can be devastating for the entire family. If your child has been hurt due to a birth injury, it is important to speak to a qualified Baltimore medical malpractice attorney.

In Spangler v. Mcquitty, the parents of a boy, Dylan, filed a claim against the physician who delivered the child, the medical practice group, and the medical facility on behalf of their son, alleging that the son’s severe disabilities were a result of birth injuries caused by medical malpractice.

While pregnant with Dylan, the mother’s physician did not obtain informed consent for the treatment that was administered to her, causing a placental abruption. The plaintiffs claimed that this condition reduced the supply of oxygen and nutrient to the fetus and ultimately left the son with cerebral palsy and other long-term injuries. Cerebral palsy is a broad term for a variety of disorders that impair the motor functions and development of a child.

The informed consent doctrine mandates that a doctor describe the medical care to the patient as well as warn that patient of any material risks or dangers associated with the treatment. The idea is that giving the patient this information allows the patient to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to proceed with the treatment in question. Here, the physician had not presented the possibility of a C-section to the mother prior to the placental abruption, at which point it became medically necessary.

A jury found that the physician did not commit medical malpractice but was not able to come to a conclusion regarding the mother’s informed consent claim. At a second trial addressing solely the informed consent issue, the jury ruled for the mother. The judge in that trial set aside the decision on the basis that the informed consent doctrine was not applicable without an affirmative physical act on the part of the physician.

The appellate court and the intermediate appellate court also found in favor of the physician, based on the same reasoning.

Maryland’s highest appellate court, however, reversed and reinstated the jury’s verdict in favor of the mother. The court reasoned that the doctrine of informed consent means that a medical professional has an obligation to tell patients of material risks that would affect the choice of a reasonably prudent person. The idea behind this duty to communicate important information is to allow the patient to make an educated decision, after a full disclosure of the material risks and the benefits of a particular treatment. As a result, the court determined that an affirmative physical act requirement would go against the foundation of the informed consent doctrine, which is to encourage a patient’s choice through patient involvement.

If your child was harmed or died as a result of a birth injury, you should not hesitate to reach out to a skilled Baltimore birth injury attorney. At Arfaa Law Group, we can analyze the facts of your case and determine a legal strategy accordingly. We take on clients from throughout Maryland. To learn more, call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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