Court Affirms Importance of Expert Opinions in Medical Malpractice Cases

Most laypeople do not have independent knowledge regarding the level of care doctors must provide to their patients. Thus, in a case in which a plaintiff alleges that a physician breached the applicable standard of care and committed malpractice, the plaintiff typically must provide an expert report in support of his or her position. The need for expert testimony in a medical malpractice case was the topic of a recent opinion issued in a case in which the plaintiff asserted medical negligence claims against the defendant. If you suffered injuries because of inept medical treatment, you might be owed damages, and you should speak to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff received care at a hospital managed by an agency of the federal government for an ulcer. He was prescribed medication and discharged but later developed periodontitis. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, arguing that the medication caused his periodontitis and other harm. Following the close of discovery, the defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment, arguing in part that the plaintiff failed to produce expert testimony in support of his claims.

Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court explained that, under the relevant law, the plaintiff was required to demonstrate the applicable standard of care, a departure from the standard by the defendant, and a causal relationship between the departure and the plaintiff’s harm. Typically, the court noted, each of these elements must be established by expert testimony in medical malpractice cases.

For example, a plaintiff must set forth expert testimony to establish the standard of care that applies when the subject at issue is so deeply related to some profession, occupation, or science that it is beyond the understanding of the average individual. The court elaborated that the standard of care and causation relating to the effect a specific medication may have on a person’s dental health was beyond the knowledge of most people.

As such, the court found that the plaintiff’s failure to produce the testimony of a qualified medical expert to establish the standard of care would usually be fatal to his medical negligence claim at this stage in the proceedings. The court ruled, though, that as the scheduling order only set forth a deadline regarding fact discovery, and the matter was not yet listed for trial, the defendant would not suffer prejudice if the court allowed the plaintiff to obtain an expert. Thus, the defendant’s motion was denied.

Meet with a Capable Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney  

Proving that a doctor’s inadequate care constitutes medical negligence typically requires expert testimony, and it is critical for people harmed by the careless acts of physicians to seek legal counsel regarding their rights. If you were hurt by insufficient care, the capable Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your potential claims and help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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