Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims Arising Out of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event that changed most aspects of people’s lives, including their expectations with regard to medical care. Specifically, during the pandemic, Maryland passed a law providing statutory immunity to medical providers acting in good faith during the health emergency.  In a recent Maryland ruling issued in a medical malpractice case, a court discussed the parameters of this statute, ultimately dismissing the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant. If you were hurt by inadequate medical care, it is wise to meet with a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer to weigh your potential claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who experienced medical issues at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, visited the emergency department at the defendant medical center twice in April. During the first visit, she exhibited symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and reported potential exposure to the virus. Despite this, she was not tested for COVID-19 due to the testing criteria in place at the time. On her subsequent visit three days later, she again displayed symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 but was discharged without being tested.

It is alleged that following further medical complications, the plaintiff instituted a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant medical center alleging negligence. The defendant medical center sought summary judgment arguing they had statutory immunity under Maryland law, as they acted in good faith under a catastrophic health emergency proclamation. The circuit court granted the defendant medical center’s motion, prompting the plaintiff ‘s appeal.

Medical Malpractice Claims Arising Out of the Diagnosis and Treatment of COVID-19

On appeal, the court conducted a comprehensive analysis of the relevant statute, PS § 14-3A-06, which provides immunity to healthcare providers acting in good faith under a catastrophic health emergency proclamation. The court considered the language of the statute, its legislative history, and principles of statutory construction to interpret its scope.

The plaintiff argued for a narrow interpretation, suggesting immunity only applied when healthcare providers followed specific orders issued during the emergency. Conversely, the defendant medical center advocated for a broader interpretation, asserting immunity from the moment of the emergency declaration until its end.

Ultimately, the court found that the healthcare providers at the defendant medical center were entitled to immunity as they provided care related to COVID-19 during the plaintiff ‘s visits, despite not specifically testing her for the virus.

The court emphasized the relevance of the healthcare providers’ actions in assessing and treating symptoms indicative of COVID-19 during the declared emergency. While acknowledging potential questions about the precise scope of immunity, especially amidst a rapidly evolving pandemic, the court affirmed the circuit court’s decision, holding that the defendant medical center was immune from liability for the care provided during the plaintiff visits to the emergency department.

Confer with an Experienced Maryland Attorney

If you were injured due to a doctor’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should confer with an attorney. The experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can assess your case and help you seek any damages recoverable. To arrange a conference, you can reach us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

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