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Articles Posted in Maryland Medical Malpractice Law

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When a person dies because of medical malpractice, the person’s family has the right to seek damages via a civil lawsuit. Specifically, the family members may seek compensation via a wrongful death and survival action. While generally the location of the harm is in the same jurisdiction as the deceased person’s residence, an issue can arise as to which state’s laws apply when the harm occurred in a different state than where the deceased person lived. Recently, a Maryland court discussed what state’s laws apply in wrongful death claims and survival actions arising out of medical malpractice in a state other than where the deceased person resided. If you lost a loved one because of incompetent medical care in another state, it is prudent to consult an attorney to discuss what state’s laws may apply in your pursuit of damages.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent, who was a Pennsylvania resident, traveled to Maryland to undergo a tonsillectomy, septoplasty, and a reduction of the inferior turbinate. Her oxygen levels fell below the normal rate following the surgery, but she stabilized and was discharged. After she traveled back to her home, she died of hypoxia, which was caused by a number of factors. The plaintiff subsequently filed a wrongful death claim and survival action in the Maryland courts. Prior to trial, the defendants filed a motion in limine, arguing that Maryland law should apply to the plaintiff’s claims. Upon review, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Substantive Law Determined by the Location of the Harm

Under Maryland law, different choice of law rules apply to wrongful death claims and survival actions. Specifically, the Wrongful Death Statute states that if a wrongful act took place in another state, United States territory, or the District of Columbia, Maryland courts will apply the substantive law of the jurisdiction where the act occurred. The courts have construed this provision to mean that if the wrongful act occurred in Maryland, the substantive law of Maryland will apply. In the subject case, the allegedly tortious conduct of the defendant occurred in Maryland. Thus, the court found that Maryland’s substantive law applied with regards to the wrongful death claim. Continue Reading

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While some medical malpractice claims involve straightforward facts, in other instances, the circumstances surrounding a party’s harm are complicated, and it is not immediately clear who is responsible or what steps are necessary to pursue damages. Any time a person is harmed by negligent healthcare, however, it is prudent for them the consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect the person’s right to seek recourse for his or her harm. This was shown in a recent Maryland appellate case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of a healthcare malpractice claim on the grounds that it was not filed within the time required under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. If you were injured by a healthcare provider at a government-owned entity, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options for protecting your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that when the minor-plaintiff was fifteen, he was taken into custody by the State Department of Health and ordered to undergo an inpatient evaluation due to self-harming behaviors. While he was admitted to the state facility, it was noted that he had difficulty controlling his impulses, was aggressive, and had a high risk of violence. It was also noted that he posed a danger to himself and to others.

Allegedly, while still in state custody, the minor-plaintiff was placed in a holding cell with other minors and was subsequently involved in an altercation during which he suffered substantial and permanent injuries. The minor-plaintiff and his mother subsequently filed a healthcare malpractice claim against the defendant in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO), after which they waived arbitration and filed a complaint in state court against the defendant. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to file the lawsuit in the time required under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA). The court agreed, granting the motion, and plaintiffs appealed. Continue Reading

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The COVID-19 pandemic has infiltrated every aspect of life throughout Maryland, including the process of seeking and obtaining medical treatment. As many states have issued orders limiting or eliminating liability for medical professionals, people throughout Maryland may be uncertain regarding their rights to pursue medical malpractice claims against a healthcare provider following negligent treatment during the pandemic. Currently, however, the orders and acts that apply to Maryland largely protect the rights of people injured by medical malpractice to pursue claims for inadequate treatment of COVID-19. If you or loved one sustained damages due to incompetent medical care, it is advisable to consult a skillful Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

Liability of Healthcare Providers Treating COVID-19 in Maryland

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act limits the liability for healthcare providers working as volunteers during the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the CARES Act precludes liability for any harm sustained when the professional is providing services that relate to the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of COVID-19, or the care or assessment of the health of a person suspected of having COVID-19.

There are some exceptions, however, in which the provider may be held liable. For example, a provider may be held liable for treating a patient while intoxicated and for criminal misconduct or gross negligence. It is important to note, however, that the CARES Act only limits the liability of volunteers, which is explicitly defined as healthcare providers that are not being compensated for their services. Continue Reading

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A case recently decided by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland highlighted the importance of complying with procedural requirements in pursuing a medical malpractice claim. Specifically, the court, in evaluating whether to grant leave to amend a complaint to include medical malpractice claims to a plaintiff who failed to comply with several components of the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act, ultimately granted leave to amend to claims against some, but not all of the defendants. If you suffered harm due to inadequate medical care, it is crucial to retain a Maryland medical malpractice attorney with ample experience handling medical malpractice cases in the Maryland courts to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable result.

Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit against the defendant health care providers in December 2018, alleging he received constitutionally inadequate medical care. At the same time, he filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendants with the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO). However, He did not file the required Certificate of Qualified Expert until July 2019. Subsequently, in September 2019, the plaintiff sought leave to amend the complaint in his federal lawsuit to include medical malpractice claims. The defendants objected to the plaintiff’s motion on the grounds that the amendment would be futile.

Grounds for Denying a Motion for Leave to Amend a Complaint

Pursuant to the relevant rules of civil procedure, a complaint may be amended as a matter of course within 21 days of the service of a defendant’s answer or motion to dismiss or with leave of court or the consent of the opposing party. Courts generally grant leave to amend freely, unless an amendment is sought in bad faith or due to a dilatory motive, or would cause the opposing party to suffer undue prejudice. Delay alone, however, is insufficient grounds to deny a leave to amend unless the delay is accompanied by futility, bad faith, or prejudice. A court may also deny leave to amend if the amendment will be futile in that the amended complaint would not withstand a motion to dismiss. Continue Reading

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Although the majority of Maryland medical malpractice cases allege that a patient suffered harm because of negligent care, suits for harm caused by medical providers are not limited to malpractice claims. In most cases, however, even if a plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges the violation of a statute or regulatory standard pertaining to medical treatment, the plaintiff will have suffered harm due to medical errors as well. Thus, it is critical for anyone who suffered damages due to medical treatment to retain an experienced attorney who will assert the proper claims. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which the court dismissed a plaintiff’s claims alleging violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), finding that the claims actually alleged medical malpractice. If you suffered harm due to insufficient care in a hospital, you should consult a capable Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment and Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries in a car accident, after which he was transferred to the defendant hospital. He was admitted, intubated, received blood transfusions, and underwent diagnostic tests and a surgical procedure. He remained in the hospital for eleven days. During that time, he required amputation of both legs. The plaintiff ultimately brought a suit against the defendant, alleging it violated EMTALA by neglecting to properly screen him or stabilize his condition. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.

Violation of EMTALA Versus Medical Malpractice

On appeal, the court affirmed. The court explained that the EMTALA was enacted to prevent hospitals from dumping patients, which is described as either refusing to provide patients who are unable to pay with emergency medical treatment or transferring them before they are in a stabilized condition. Thus, the EMTALA requires hospitals to screen a person to determine whether he or she is suffering from an emergency medical condition and if so, to stabilize the person’s condition in certain circumstances, as is necessary to secure the person’s transfer without allowing the condition to further deteriorate. Continue Reading

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When people have to contend with the death of a loved one in Maryland, they are often focused on laying the departed loved one to rest and healing emotionally, rather than a potential lawsuit. Thus, an innocent act such a cremating a loved one’s remains may provide fodder for a defendant to argue that his or her defenses have been damaged in a subsequent case that arises out of the deceased person’s death. This was demonstrated in a recent medical malpractice case in which the defendant appealed a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, arguing that the cremation of the plaintiff’s decedent’s remains constituted spoliation. If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to medical malpractice, it is critical to speak with an attorney regarding what you can do to preserve your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a surgical reversal of a colostomy, which was performed at the defendant hospital. After the surgery, the decedent developed an infection and sepsis. He died five days after the surgery. It was ultimately revealed that he suffered a bowel leak, which the defendant surgeon failed to diagnose and treat in a timely manner. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendants. Prior to trial, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff engaged in spoliation of evidence by having the decedent’s remains cremated after his autopsy. Following the trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants appealed.

Spoliation Under Maryland Law

Under Maryland law, the doctrine of spoliation is grounded in fairness and symmetry. In sum, it is based on the principle that a party should not be able to base its claims or defenses on physical evidence that it has since destroyed, to the detriment of the opposing party. In assessing whether spoliation has occurred, a court will determine whether there has been an act of destruction, whether the party intended to destroy evidence and whether the destruction occurred before the suit was filed, when the suit was imminent, or after the suit was instituted. Continue Reading

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Medical malpractice cases are complex, and despite plaintiffs’ attorneys’ best efforts, juries do not always accurately understand the issues of liability and damages. Depending on what court presides over a medical malpractice case, when a jury finds in favor of the defendant, the plaintiff may not only suffer a loss of a damages award, he or she may also be required to pay the defendant’s costs as well.  In a recent case decided by the District Court for the District of Maryland, the issue of when costs should be awarded in a medical malpractice case was discussed. If you suffered an injury due to incompetent medical care, it is prudent to meet with a trusted Maryland malpractice attorney to discuss whether you may be able to assert claims against your care provider.

Factual Background

It is alleged that the defendant anesthesiologist attempted to administer a cervical epidural injection to the plaintiff. Following the attempt, the plaintiff contracted a staph infection. He eventually had to undergo emergency surgery on his neck to address abscesses and infection, and a laminectomy of his spinal column. As a consequence, he suffers from chronic pain that is permanent and is unable to perform many activities of daily life. He filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant anesthesiologist as well as the defendant doctor who cared for him after the epidural.

It is reported that the case proceeded to trial, and the salient issue presented to the jury was whether the defendants were medically negligent in the administration of the epidural and post-epidural care. The jury deliberated for some time but ultimately found in favor of the defendants. The court then entered an order requiring the plaintiff to pay costs. The plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading

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In most medical malpractice cases filed in Maryland it is critical for the plaintiff to present expert testimony to establish that the defendant care provider is liable for the plaintiff’s harm. In many cases, the defendant will try to argue that the plaintiff’s expert is not qualified to offer an opinion on the disputed issues, or that the expert failed to establish that the defendant deviated from the standard of care, in an effort to preclude the expert from testifying at trial. If a defendant does not properly preserve its objection to a plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, however, the defendant may waive the right to object. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland overturned a trial court ruling a plaintiff’s expert could not testify at trial. If you were harmed by inadequate medical care, it is critical to retain a skilled Maryland medical malpractice attorney to fight to protect your interests.

Procedural History of the Case 

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant due to the defendant’s failure to diagnose the plaintiff with oral candidiasis in a timely manner. Prior to trial, the defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s expert from testifying on the grounds that the expert did not define the applicable standard of care during his deposition. The court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s case, as the doctor that was prohibited from testifying was the plaintiff’s only expert witness. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in excluding her expert’s testimony.

Expert Qualifications in a Medical Malpractice Case

Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-415(h), certain objections are waived if they are not made during a deposition. For example, objections to the competency of a witness, or the relevance or materiality of testimony are waived if they are not made during a deposition, and an objection would enable the opposing party to remove or eliminate the grounds for the objection. In the subject case, the plaintiff argued that the defendant failed to object to the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony during his deposition and therefore waived the right to object. Continue Reading

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In any case in which an injured party wishes to pursue damages, it is essential for the party to comply with the procedural rules set forth under Maryland law. Medical malpractice cases differ from other civil lawsuits, however, in that they have their own separate set of rules with regard to what a plaintiff must do to be permitted to pursue a claim. In a recent medical malpractice case arising out of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim for failing to file certificates in a timely manner, emphasizing the gravity of the failure to comply with the procedural rules. If you or a loved one were injured due to inadequate medical care, you should speak with a trusted medical malpractice attorney to discuss what you must do to recover damages.

Facts and Procedures of the Case

Allegedly, the decedent visited the defendant hospital in March 2014, with complaints of lower back pain and numbness and tingling in his legs. The attending physicians assessed the decedent as having a pinched nerve and discharged him. A couple of days later, the decedent had severe back pain and began vomiting. He returned to the defendant hospital but died on the following day, due to septic shock. The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice claim in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO) against the defendant hospital and the medical providers who treated the decedent.

Pursuant to the Health Care Malpractice Act, after the plaintiff filed her statement of claim, she had 90 days to file a certificate of a qualified expert. Reportedly, the plaintiff sought and obtained two extensions of time to file the certificate. She failed to meet the third deadline, however, after which the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. On the day on which the defendants filed their motion, the plaintiff filed her certificate and a motion to extend the time to file the certificate. On the following day, she filed an election to waive arbitration with HCADRO. The case was then transferred to the circuit court, where it was dismissed, due to the plaintiff’s failure to file a certificate within the time limitations. The plaintiff appealed.

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Under Maryland law, filing a certificate from a health care provider is a prerequisite to any plaintiff wishing to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against a board-certified health care provider. Not only must the plaintiff file a certificate, but also the certificate must be from a provider in the same specialty as the defendant or a related specialty. In a recent malpractice case against a transplant surgeon, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland evaluated the specifics of the certificate requirement, including who is qualified to issue the certificate. If you sustained damages due to a negligently performed surgery, it is critical to retain an experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing damages from the provider that caused your harm.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered from end-stage kidney disease. As a result, she obtained a kidney transplant at the defendant hospital. The surgery was performed by the defendant doctor, who was a board-certified surgeon specializing in kidney transplantation. The plaintiff ultimately filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, asserting that the defendant doctor departed from the applicable standard of care by transplanting an incompatible kidney in the plaintiff.

Reportedly, prior to filing her lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a certificate and report from a licensed nurse practitioner who was certified in coordinating clinical transplants. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to meet the Maryland requirement that a plaintiff must file a certificate from a health care provider in the same field as the defendant prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

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