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Court Discusses Specifics of Maryland Certificate of Health Care Provider Requirement in Medical Malpractice Cases

Under Maryland law, filing a certificate from a health care provider is a prerequisite to any plaintiff wishing to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against a board-certified health care provider. Not only must the plaintiff file a certificate, but also the certificate must be from a provider in the same specialty as the defendant or a related specialty. In a recent malpractice case against a transplant surgeon, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland evaluated the specifics of the certificate requirement, including who is qualified to issue the certificate. If you sustained damages due to a negligently performed surgery, it is critical to retain an experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorney to assist you in pursuing damages from the provider that caused your harm.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered from end-stage kidney disease. As a result, she obtained a kidney transplant at the defendant hospital. The surgery was performed by the defendant doctor, who was a board-certified surgeon specializing in kidney transplantation. The plaintiff ultimately filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, asserting that the defendant doctor departed from the applicable standard of care by transplanting an incompatible kidney in the plaintiff.

Reportedly, prior to filing her lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a certificate and report from a licensed nurse practitioner who was certified in coordinating clinical transplants. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to meet the Maryland requirement that a plaintiff must file a certificate from a health care provider in the same field as the defendant prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Specifics Regarding the Health Care Provider Certificate Requirement

A court assessing whether a medical practitioner is qualified to offer an opinion as to whether a defendant committed malpractice does not focus on the practitioner’s title or field of practice. Instead, courts evaluate whether the areas of specialty of the practitioner offering a certificate and the defendant sufficiently overlap so that the certifying practitioner is permitted to offer an opinion regarding the standard of care that applies to the defendant. In other words, the proposed certifying expert must be equally knowledgeable about the defendant’s specialty and the applicable standard of care as a practitioner practicing in the same specialty as the defendant.

In the subject case, the court found that while transplant coordinators provide a valuable service, they do not have sufficient knowledge to opine on which organs are suitable for transplant or which treatment is necessary under the standard of care. Furthermore, the court stated that while transplant coordinators may be cognizant of the guidelines that apply to surgeons, they take no part in developing the guidelines or determining when it is appropriate to deviate from the guidelines. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff failed to provide a certificate from a suitable expert as required under Maryland law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Confer with a Knowledgeable Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to a negligently performed surgical procedure, it is in your best interest to confer with a knowledgeable Maryland surgical malpractice attorney to assess your injuries and the compensation that you may be able to recover at trial. The assertive attorneys at Arfaa Law Group will gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. We can be reached via our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a free and confidential conference regarding your case.

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