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Court Differentiates Between Maryland Medical Malpractice Claims and Other Claims Arising Out of Medical Care

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.

Subsequent regulations further limited the requirement that a hospital stabilize a patient, stating that, if after screening a patient, the hospital determines the patient is suffering from an emergency medical condition, the hospital admits the patient in good faith, the hospital has met its responsibilities with regard to that patient. An admission will be found to not be in good faith when a person is admitted purely to comply with the EMTALA, without intent to treat the patient.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant admitted the plaintiff in good faith, in that it not only admitted the patient but treated him for almost two weeks. The court noted, however, that the plaintiff took issue with the competency of the defendant’s medical staff and the treatment decisions of his medical providers. As such, the court found that the plaintiff’s claims did not suggest a violation of the EMTALA, but sounded in medical malpractice, and must be pursued under state malpractice law.

Speak with a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you received inadequate treatment in a hospital emergency room, you should speak with a trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding whether you may have a viable claim for damage. The seasoned malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group have the skills and resources to help you strive for the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our form online or by calling (410) 889-1850 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.