Doctors, like all people, make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately, when they make mistakes in the context of medical care, it can cause grave harm and may be grounds for pursuing medical malpractice claims. Doctors rarely admit liability when accused of medical negligence however, and, in some instances, will assert that another physician is to blame. In a recent Maryland opinion, the court discussed causation and third-party negligence and what evidence is admissible to demonstrate a lack of culpability. If you were harmed by the carelessness of a physician, you might be owed compensation, and you should speak to a Maryland medical malpractice attorney promptly.
Factual and Procedural Setting
It is reported that the decedent had several risk factors for stroke, including obesity, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and smoking. He sought medical attention after hitting his head while playing racquetball, complaining of headaches and nausea. Initially, his CT scans appeared normal. However, over the following weeks, his symptoms worsened, and he sought further medical advice, but no definitive diagnosis was made. The decedent subsequently suffered a stroke and was taken to the hospital. Despite treatment attempts, the decedent’s condition deteriorated, and he died.
Allegedly, the decedent’s estate filed a medical malpractice case against the radiologist that reviewed the decedent’s imaging as well as other medical practitioners involved in the decedent’s care, alleging negligence and failure to diagnose the stroke in a timely manner. The case went to trial, and the jury found in favor of the defendant radiologist, determining that he had not breached the standard of care. The decedent’s estate appealed.
Evidence of Intervening Negligence in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases
The salient issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred in permitting the defendant radiologist to introduce evidence that the negligence of a third party caused the plaintiff’s harm. The court explained that proximate cause is a crucial element of negligence. Further, superseding causation becomes relevant when the negligence of a third party is a substantial factor in causing the injury. In other words, a party can avoid liability can be avoided if the intervening negligent act or omission is considered a superseding cause of harm to the plaintiff.
In the subject case, the defendant radiologist argued that the subsequent negligence of other doctors broke the chain of causation and relieved him of liability. The court considered the evidence presented by both parties to determine whether the subsequent doctors’ actions were extraordinary and unforeseeable, as was necessary to break the chain of causation. Ultimately, the court ruled that the defendant radiologist was entitled to present evidence of the subsequent doctors’ negligence as relevant to his defense. As such, it affirmed the verdict.
Confer with a Trusted Maryland Attorney
When more than one factor contributed to a patient’s harm, it can be challenging to prove that a defendant’s medical malpractice proximately caused the patient’s losses. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of negligently rendered medical care, it is wise to confer with an attorney to assess your potential claims. The trusted Maryland lawyersof Arfaa Law Group possess the skills and resources needed to prove liability in medical malpractice cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.