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Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims and the Maryland Tort Claims Act

Many people who live in Maryland obtain care from facilities owned or funded by the State of Maryland. A patient that suffers harm due to the careless acts of a practitioner working in a State medical center may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit, but in addition to proving the elements of a negligence claim, the patient must also prove that the provider is not immune under the Maryland Torts Claim Act (MTCA). Recently, a Maryland court discussed the plaintiff’s burden in a medical malpractice claim against a doctor employed by the State, ultimately determining the plaintiff had set forth sufficient evidence to proceed. If you were harmed by a careless doctor at a State-owned facility, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent, who was an inmate with the Maryland Department of Corrections, had a long-standing history of suicidal ideation and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. During his incarceration, he was evaluated by a psychiatrist and diagnosed with personality, schizoaffective, and psychotic disorders and placed on suicide watch. He was then transferred to another facility where he was examined and treated by the two defendant psychiatrists.

Reportedly, the defendants ultimately determined that the plaintiff would remain stable if he took his medication and directed that he be transferred to a less restrictive housing tier, despite the fact that he was noncompliant, incommunicative, and physically immobile due to his mental health issues. He subsequently died by suicide. The lawsuit was filed against the defendants, alleging they committed medical malpractice. The defendants moved to dismiss the claims.

Medical Malpractice Claims and the MTCA

The court declined to dismiss the medical malpractice claims, noting that they needed to establish a breach of the duty owed by demonstrating the defendants failed to exercise ordinary medical skill and care based on the prevailing standard of care in the profession and that, but for the negligence of the defendant the subject injury would not have happened. The court declined to dismiss the medical malpractice claim as insufficiently pled.

Similarly, the court was not persuaded by the defendants’ argument that they were immune under the MTCA. The court explained that while State employees are generally immune from tort liability under the MTCA if they are found to have acted maliciously or to have engaged in tortious acts outside of the scope of their employment, they lose their immunity. Here, the court found that while the defendants were State employees, it was adequately alleged that they acted with deliberate indifference so as to satisfy the standard for establishing an exception to immunity. As such, the court declined to dismiss the claims.

Speak to a Capable Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were hurt by an incompetent doctor, it is prudent to speak to a lawyer to determine whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages. The capable Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your options and aid you in seeking the full amount of compensation recoverable under the law. You can reach us via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a conference.

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