Court Discusses Causation in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Whether a plaintiff in a Maryland medical malpractice case is awarded damages generally depends on the strength of the testimony provided by the plaintiff’s medical expert. Specifically, the expert must establish not only that the defendant departed from the standard of care but also that the deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm. Thus, if a plaintiff’s expert cannot establish causation, the plaintiff’s claims may fail. Recently, a Maryland court discussed the standards for evaluating whether an expert opinion on causation is reliable enough to be admitted into evidence, in a case where the defendants were accused of medical malpractice for failing to diagnose the plaintiff’s cancer in a prompt manner. If you were harmed by your doctor’s carelessness, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorney to determine your potential claims.

Factual History

It is reported that the defendants began treating the plaintiff in the summer of 2014 when the plaintiff reported blood in his urine. The defendants did not offer the plaintiff any diagnostic or laboratory tests that would screen for cancer. Subsequently, in the fall of 2015, the plaintiff was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in his kidney and bladder. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, alleging their failures led to the spread of his cancer, worsening his prognosis and reducing his life expectancy.

Allegedly, following discovery, the plaintiff submitted the reports of multiple medical experts, including one who offered an opinion that the defendants’ breach of the standard of care led to the plaintiff’s harm. The defendants then moved to preclude the plaintiff from allowing the expert to testify regarding causation at trial, on the basis that the expert’s opinion was unreliable.

Evaluating Whether Expert Testimony is Reliable

For expert testimony to be admissible, it must be both reliable and relevant. Thus, a court’s task in evaluating the proffered opinion of an expert entails making a preliminary assessment as to whether the methodology or reasoning underlying the testimony is scientifically valid. The court must also evaluate whether the methods and reasoning relied upon by the expert can properly be applied to the facts at issue. Under the relevant statute and case law, an inquiry into the sufficiency of an expert’s opinion is intended to be flexible.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s expert’s opinion was sufficiently based on valid scientific principles to be submitted to the jury, noting that other courts have found similar analyses founded on the same information to be admissible and persuasive. Further, the court noted that the plaintiff’s expert’s failure to cite to medical literature was not a reason to prohibit his testimony, as such citations were not required by the evidentiary rules. As such, the court denied the defendants’ motion.

Speak to a Seasoned Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm because of a delayed diagnosis, you may be able to recover damages and should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are well-versed in what it takes to present a winning case, and we will gather the facts and evidence needed to help you pursue a favorable outcome. You can reach us through our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a conference.

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