Court Discusses Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Cases

Members of the military typically receive care from doctors employed by the Department of Defense. If the care they receive is inadequate and causes injuries or other harm, they may be able to pursue medical malpractice claims against the federal government. As with all medical malpractice cases, such claims must be brought in a timely manner; otherwise, they will be deemed waived. In a recent medical malpractice case, a court issued an opinion discussing the timeliness of medical malpractice claims against the military, ultimately finding that the plaintiff’s claims could proceed. If you were injured by incompetent medical treatment, it is smart to talk to a Maryland medical malpractice attorney about your rights.

Case History

Allegedly, the defendant performed a surgical procedure on the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered complications, which led to multiple admissions and additional surgeries. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice and informed consent claim against the defendant, alleging that the defendant breached the standard of care during knee surgery and failed to obtain informed consent.

It is reported that during the trial, the plaintiff’s expert witness testified that the defendant breached the national standard of care by opting for aggressive surgery when less invasive options were available. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff on the malpractice claim but rejected the informed consent claim. The defendant then moved for judgment in his favor as a matter of law, arguing that the plaintiff’s expert witness lacked a basis for knowledge of the national standard of care. The court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.

Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s expert witness failed to establish an independent basis for his knowledge of the national standard of care regarding the use of a composite graft on a clot in a limb not at risk of imminent loss. The defendant argued that the questions posed to the plaintiff’s expert witness assumed the existence of a national standard without providing a reference point.

The court explained that in medical malpractice actions in the District of Columbia, the plaintiff must establish a national standard of care through expert testimony. The plaintiff’s burden includes proving the applicable standard, the deviation from it, and the causal relationship between the deviation and the injury.

The court emphasized that the personal opinion of the testifying expert is insufficient, and the expert must establish a national standard through reference to published standards, discussions with practitioners outside the district, or presentation of relevant data. In the subject case, the court agreed with the defendant and found that the plaintiff failed to show an adequate foundational basis for his expert’s knowledge of the applicable national standard of care or a basis for the expert’s opinion that defendant’s treatment of the plaintiff fell below the national standard. As such, it reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Maryland Attorney

Doctors have an obligation to provide their patients with competent care, and if they neglect to do so, they should be held accountable. If you were harmed by a negligent doctor, you should meet with an attorney about your options. The capable Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can inform you of your potential claims and help you seek any damages you may be owed. To arrange a consultation, you can contact us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

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