Court Discusses Experts Certificates in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

In Maryland, plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases must file a certificate of a qualified expert who attests to the defendants’ deviations from the applicable standard of care and their role as the proximate cause of the alleged injury. If a plaintiff fails to meet this requirement or their certificate is defective, their claim will most likely be dismissed. As discussed in a recent Maryland case, however, if a plaintiff files a valid certificate of a qualified expert, it cannot subsequently be deemed invalid due to the expert’s actions. If you suffered damages due to medical negligence, it is wise to meet with a Maryland medical malpractice attorney about what damages you may be able to recover.

Factual and Procedural Setting of the Case

It is reported that the decedent visited a hospital emergency room in May 2000, complaining of weakness and fatigue. The attending physician diagnosed her with mild anemia and prescribed iron supplements. Two days later, the decedent visited her primary care physician, who diagnosed her with mild congestive heart failure.

Allegedly, six days after her initial visit, the decedent was admitted to the hospital with acute abdominal pain and died later that evening. In 2002, the decedent’s daughters filed a claim against the attending physician, the primary care physician, and the hospital, alleging medical malpractice. The certifying physician identified deviations from the standard of care by the defendants. In a subsequent deposition, however, she deferred the opinion of whether the attending physician or the hospital departed from the standard. As such, the attending physician and the hospital moved for the dismissal of the claims against them on the grounds that the certificate of qualified expert was invalid. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the intermediate court reversed the trial court ruling. The defendants then appealed.

Certificates of Qualified Experts in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the intermediate court ruling. In doing so, it held that the certificate was valid and that there existed a dispute of material fact regarding the apparent authority of physicians and the hospital’s vicarious liability. In doing so, the court rejected the argument that the qualified expert’s subsequent deposition invalidated the certificate. The court emphasized that subsequent events cannot invalidate a facially valid certificate and that the statutory time limit indicates a preliminary nature for the certificate.

The court also disagreed with the hospital’s argument that it did not have apparent authority over the attending physician, citing the decedent’s consent form and the attending physician’s role at the hospital. Thus, the court allowed the case to proceed.

Speak to an Experienced Maryland Attorney

If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to the incompetence of a health care provider, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should speak to an attorney. The experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group are adept at demonstrating that negligent doctors and nurses should be held accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we will tirelessly pursue any compensation available. To arrange a meeting, you can contact us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

Contact Information