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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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In Maryland, the essential elements of a medical malpractice claim are a breach of the applicable standard of care and harm caused by the breach. Thus, even if a physician commits an egregious act, it may not be considered malpractice if the plaintiff cannot establish the elements required to impose liability on the physician. This was demonstrated in a recent case in which the U.S. District Court of Maryland ruled that although a doctor who engages in a sexual relationship with a patient commits an ethical violation, the violation in and of itself is not sufficient to sustain a malpractice claim. If you were harmed by inappropriate medical care, it is important to speak with a skillful Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

The plaintiff worked as an office manager for the defendant physician at the defendant medical practice. The plaintiff became ill, after which the defendant began treating the plaintiff. Throughout her illness, the defendant physician treated the plaintiff, including attempting a surgical repair of a hernia and repairing a surgical incision. On several occasions, the defendant physician demanded sexual intercourse as payment for his medical services. The plaintiff was ultimately terminated, after which she filed a lawsuit against the defendants, asserting medical malpractice, negligent supervision, and sexual harassment claims. The defendants filed motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Ethical Violations May Not Constitute Medical Malpractice

With regard to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims, the court stated that under Maryland law, it is axiomatic that a plaintiff alleging malpractice must prove the applicable standard of care, a departure from the standard, and harm caused by the departure. The court noted that the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims arose out of the defendant physician’s demands that she exchange sexual favors as a payment for medical services, on occasions when sexual intercourse was prohibited due to her diminished health.

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There are specific requirements set forth by the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (“the Act”) that must be complied with by anyone wishing to pursue a medical malpractice claim. In part, the Act sets forth deadlines for when a plaintiff must file a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“the HCADRO”), and for when a plaintiff must file required documents pertaining to his or her expert. Recently, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed whether the trial court wrongfully dismissed a plaintiff’s complaint due to the late filing of the expert certificate and report. If you have sustained injuries due to inadequate medical care, it is crucial to retain a knowledgeable Maryland malpractice attorney who will comply with the statutory requirements to assist you in your pursuit of damages.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a claim with the HCADRO arising out of harm allegedly caused by the defendants. The HCADRO provided the plaintiff with two extensions to file the required certificate of qualified expert and report, but the plaintiff missed both deadlines. Thus, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Within five days of when the motion was filed, the plaintiff filed the certificate of qualified expert and expert report along with a waiver of arbitration. The case was then transferred to the circuit court, where the plaintiff filed a complaint. The defendants again filed a motion to dismiss due to the untimely filing of the certificate of qualified expert and report. The plaintiff argued that though the report and certificate were untimely, they were sufficient. The court granted the defendants’ motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Penalties for the Untimely Filing of an Expert Certificate and Report

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court committed an error in dismissing her claim when she filed a valid and sufficient certificate of qualified expert and report prior to opting to waive arbitration. In other words, the plaintiff essentially argued that because she met the substantive requirements of the Act, it did not matter if she met the temporal requirements. In turn, the defendants argued that the plaintiff failed to meet a condition precedent to filing a medical malpractice claim by failing to file the report and certificate in a timely manner, and therefore, the plaintiff’s claim was barred. Continue Reading

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It is not uncommon for people to travel to another city or state to seek medical treatment. Under normal circumstances, traveling for medical care does not present any concerns, but when the care provided causes the patient harm, an issue can arise as to what state’s laws apply in determining whether the patient’s care providers should be held liable. Recently the United States District Court for the District Court of Maryland discussed which state’s law should apply when there is a conflict in a case in which the defendant was treated in Maryland but lived in Pennsylvania. If you were harmed by out of state medical care, it is prudent to consult a proficient Maryland malpractice attorney regarding your options for seeking recourse for your injuries.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent, who lived in Pennsylvania, traveled to Maryland to visit the defendant physicians who specialized in ear, nose, and throat surgery due to chronic nasal obstructions and difficulty swallowing. She underwent various tests, after which she was scheduled for a tonsillectomy, septoplasty, and reduction of turbinates. The decedent was noted to be potentially difficult to intubate, but she was intubated without issue and successfully extubated after surgery.

Reportedly the decedent was discharged home with directions to sleep with her head at a greater than 45-degree angle above her body, which she did. In the middle of the night, however, her husband found her unconscious and not breathing, and she was unable to be revived. An autopsy indicated cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and obesity were the causes of death and that no gross changes that indicated post-surgical complications were present. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants in federal court in Pennsylvania that was transferred to the District Court of Maryland. Defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment. Continue Reading

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Medical malpractice cases arising out of a doctor’s failure to diagnose a patient often involve complicated issues and conflicting positions regarding what harm the patient sustained due to the delay in receiving a proper diagnosis. Thus, in cases in which the patient alleges a doctor committed malpractice by failing to diagnose the patient, expert testimony is needed to establish the doctor’s liability and the patient’s harm. In a recent case in which the plaintiff alleged she suffered harm due to her doctor’s failure to diagnose breast cancer, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland discussed the scope of expert testimony permitted. If you sustained damages due to a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis, you should meet with a skillful Maryland malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you must produce to hold your care provider liable for your harm.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment and the Underlying Trial

Allegedly, the plaintiff noticed a lump in her right breast, which she reported to the defendant, her gynecologist. She underwent diagnostic testing, which reportedly revealed no evidence of malignancy. The plaintiff continued to treat with the defendant, who repeatedly advised her that the lump was nothing to worry about. In 2012, the plaintiff underwent a biopsy, which revealed that she had cancer in her right breast. She subsequently underwent a bilateral mastectomy. She then sued the defendant for medical malpractice, arguing that the defendant breached the standard of care by failing to diagnose her cancer in a timely manner.

Following a trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant appealed, and the court issued an opinion reversing the verdict and remanding the case for further proceedings. Following the second trial, the plaintiff appealed, arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in precluding testimony from the plaintiff’s expert witness. Continue Reading

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Generally, many states allow for the tolling of the statutes of limitations in medical malpractice cases under certain circumstances, such as when the patient’s harm is not discovered until a later date. Many states also have a statute of repose, which limits an injured patient’s right to recover under a medical malpractice claim, regardless of when the harm was discovered. In a case in which the plaintiff did not discover her harm until eleven years after her surgery, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently deemed the Pennsylvania statute of repose applying to medical malpractice claims to be unconstitutional. If you suffered harm due to a doctor’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney to discuss your rights. The Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of the Arfaa Law Group regularly assist injured parties in cases in Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as other states.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered from a genetic condition that caused a diminished ability of her liver to develop a protein that is necessary to protect the lungs. To treat the condition, she underwent a liver transplant in 2003. The transplant was intended to cure the plaintiff of the condition. In 2015, however, testing indicated the plaintiff still suffered from the genetic condition. As such, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her treating providers and the hospital where the transplant was performed. The defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the seven-year statute of repose under the MCARE Act (the Act) barred the plaintiff’s claim. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the trial court ruling. The plaintiff then appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Statute of Repose

The Pennsylvania Constitution states, in part, that when a person sustains a legal injury, he or she shall have access to the courts and the right to a remedy. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania noted that case law had established that the remedies clause did not establish a fundamental right to a remedy, but that the right to a remedy was nonetheless a significant right.

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In the majority of medical malpractice cases pursued in Maryland, both the plaintiff and the defendant will need to retain one or more experts to opine as to whether the expert deviated from the standard of care. If either party’s expert is not qualified, however, the party may be precluded from presenting the expert’s testimony at trial. Recently, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed the limitations of an expert’s qualification to opine on treatment related to his or her specialty in a medical malpractice case. If you suffered harm because of negligent medical care, it is wise to speak with a skillful Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss what evidence you may need to prove liability for your harm.

Factual Background of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a surgical repair of an aortic aneurysm and a bypass of the right coronary artery. She went to a rehabilitation facility for one month following her surgery, after which she was discharged home. A few weeks later, she underwent an evaluation for blood pressure and other health issues with a certified nurse practitioner at a cardiology practice. During the appointment, the plaintiff’s decedent reported she was experiencing vomiting, weight loss, and nausea. Two days later, however, she was evaluated by the doctor who performed her surgery, who stated that she was not experiencing any complications.

It is alleged that at a subsequent follow-up with a second cardiologist, she again reported vomiting and other issues. The second cardiologist discontinued three of the plaintiff’s decedent’s medications due to her ongoing symptoms. She subsequently developed a pericardial effusion and congestive heart failure. She died shortly after that from sepsis of an unknown origin. Before her death, it was suspected that the plaintiff’s decedent was suffering from mesenteric ischemia, but an autopsy did not reveal any evidence of the condition. Continue Reading

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People diagnosed with cancer turn to doctors to alleviate their fears, but not all doctors who treat cancer provide care commensurate with their training, and their patients often suffer significant harm as a result. If a patient harmed by medical malpractice pursues claims against a negligent doctor, the doctor may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that the negligence of a third party caused the patient’s harm. Recently, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed when it is appropriate to instruct the jury on the defense of non-party negligence in a medical malpractice case that arose out of the defendants’ insufficient treatment of a plaintiff with cancer. If you have sustained injuries due to inadequate treatment, it is prudent to meet with a proficient Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

In 2011, the plaintiff was diagnosed with renal cell cancer and an enlarged lymph node near the affected kidney. A surgeon removed the kidney but not the lymph node, due to its proximity to the inferior vena cava. The plaintiff then began treatment with an oncologist, who presumed the lymph node was cancerous and noted that it shrunk in reaction to chemotherapy. The oncologist ordered periodic scans of the lymph node over the next several years, which were interpreted by multiple radiologists, each of whom found no lymphadenopathy. Then, in 2015, a scan indicated the lymph node had become enlarged. A biopsy subsequently indicated the lymph node was cancerous, and additional scans showed that it could not be safely removed because of its closeness to the vena cava.

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Unfortunately, medical over-treatment is a reality across the United States. While over-treatment may seem harmless, the reality is that it can cause injury or lead to making your illness worse. Many physicians believe that over-treatment can be caused by a medical professional’s own financial motives, the fear of malpractice lawsuits, or both. If you have suffered an injury that you believe was caused by medical over-treatment, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys can help you determine your legal options to pursue compensation.

According to a recent study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other high tech scans for low back pain shot up by 50 percent between 1995 to 2015. Up to 35 percent of MRI scans for lower back pain were inappropriate. While medical societies have launched campaigns to convince doctors and patients to forego the unnecessary images, it has not improved the situation. Unnecessary imaging is not just limited to lower back pain. Americans spend in excess of $100 billion on different types of diagnostic imaging every year, much of which is unnecessary and, in some case, can be harmful. For instance, even though X-rays are relatively cheap, they can increase the risk of cancer.  According to doctors, another issue is that MRIs can provide too much information that is not related to the back pain, which can lead to confusion and surgery for benign abnormalities.

Over-treatment can take a serious toll on a patient. In addition to the expenses, patients may be subjected to risks like radiation, dangerous side effects and a number of other risks that are inherent with many intensive and invasive treatments and procedures. A doctor has a duty to treat you with the appropriate standard of care, which is the same level of care and caution that another doctor confronted with the same situation would exercise. If you are over-treated and this treatment results in harm, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault doctor if you can establish that the doctor violated the appropriate standard of care. In short, medical malpractice occurs when the doctor’s breach of the standard of care is a direct cause of patient injury.

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Medical records are a way to document a patient’s medical history as well as the history of care that person has received by a specific medical professional. These records are vital to ensuring a patient receives adequate care. If you’ve suffered harm due to an error in your medical record or because your medical record was mixed up with another patient’s record, we are here to help. Our Baltimore medical negligence attorneys believe that victims of malpractice deserve full and fair compensation for their injuries and losses.

A study recently conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative has revealed that matching patients to their healthcare records is an ongoing issue in medical facilities across the country. Shockingly, in some places, the current patient match rate could be as low as 50 or 60 percent. The study also found that medical record errors are more common in urban health systems where patients obtain medical care at multiple facilities, indicating a need for more efficient data exchange not just within medical facilities, but also between them.

Mismatched patient records take place when two patients, frequently with a similar name, have their records mixed up by a medical professional. This can lead to a wide range of adverse health consequences for a patient, including, but not limited to: delays in patient care; patients receiving the wrong surgical procedure; patients receiving the wrong medication and an overall increase in healthcare costs. Another type of medical records error takes place when multiple patient records exist for the same patient. Not only are duplicate records inconvenient, they can lead to misinformation and medical professionals providing unnecessary testing and treatment.

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You may be shocked to learn that medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Medical errors are also the cause of countless patient injuries in Maryland and across the country. Often, these injuries and deaths are entirely preventable. If you have suffered harm caused by a doctor’s mistake, we can assist you in figuring out your legal options. As experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers, we will tirelessly fight for your right to compensation.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that doctors with poor medical malpractice track records may be an increased hazard to patient welfare. The research revealed that out of 480,000 health care providers in the U.S., just 2.3 percent of doctors were responsible for almost 39 percent of paid medical malpractice claims between the years of 2003 and 2015. In other words, a small number of physicians are responsible for a disproportionately high number of medical malpractice claims.

In addition, the study found that physicians with numerous medical malpractice claims are more likely to move into smaller practices. For instance, doctors with five or more claims were more than twice as likely to go into solo practice than doctors with no claims. Smaller practices tend to have less oversight than larger ones. This is especially problematic because employers, rather than patients, are the ones who typically vet a physician’s medical record when they are hiring. As a result, patients just walk into these smaller practices, completely unaware of the physician’s subpar safety record.

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