Court Discusses Exhaustion of Remedies Under the Federal Tort Claims Act in a Maryland Medical Malpractice Case

Many medical facilities throughout Maryland receive funding from the federal government. Simply because an entity is federally funded does not mean it is immune from medical malpractice claims. However, a plaintiff seeking damages for malpractice that occurred at a health care facility that is considered a government establishment must comply with the procedural requirements set forth in the Federal Tort Claims Act (the FTCA). It is well established that the failure to comply with the FTCA can result in a dismissal of claims, as noted in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case. If you were harmed by incompetent care that you received in a government-owned or funded facility in Maryland, you should contact a skilled Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you might be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff visited a hospital at a United States military establishment for a right hip arthroplasty. Prior to the surgery, the plaintiff advised the anesthesiologist that she did not believe an epidural would be effective due to a prior laminectomy. The anesthesiologist nonetheless attempted an epidural three times before switching to regular anesthesia. The plaintiff suffered irreparable nerve damage during the surgery, which rendered her unable to walk upright.

It is alleged that the plaintiff then filed an administrative claim with a government agency alleging that the surgeon cut a motor nerve during the surgery. The agency stated there was no evidence of negligence but invited the plaintiff to submit an expert medical opinion. The plaintiff submitted a written report in which a medical expert stated it was difficult to ascertain the cause of her injury. The agency then denied the plaintiff’s claim, after which she filed a lawsuit under the FTCA, alleging the attending anesthesiologist committed medical negligence. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, in part, that the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. The court granted the defendant’s motion.

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

The court explained that the FTCA states that prior to filing a civil lawsuit against a government entity, a claimant must present his or her claim to the appropriate administrative agency. Moreover, the FTCA provides that the claim has to be presented to the agency within two years of the date the claim accrues. The court noted that it is well established that filing an administrative claim is a jurisdictional requirement that cannot be waived. Further, a claimant’s administrative remedies will not be considered exhausted unless the claimant presents a claim that is sufficient to allow the agency to investigate and assign a sum certain value on the claim.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, as she filed a claim alleging the surgeon’s negligent care caused her harm but did not assert any claims against the anesthesiologist. Thus, the court found she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies.

Speak with an Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured by negligent medical care at a government-owned facility, you may be owed damages, and it is wise to speak with an experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding your harm. The capable attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at handling a variety of medical malpractice claims, including claims arising under the FTCA and we can assist you in seeking any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us at (410) 889-1850 or via our form online to schedule a consultation.

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