Court Discusses the Sufficiency of Expert Testimony in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Most people that serve on juries in Maryland medical malpractice cases lack independent knowledge regarding the standard of care that applies to physicians or what is required under the standard. As such, a plaintiff alleging that they suffered harm because of a doctor’s negligence will typically need to retain an expert to explain the standard to the jury at trial. Additionally, the expert must link the defendant’s breach of the standard to the plaintiff’s eventual harm. The expert’s opinion must be based on adequate data and methodology, though, otherwise, it may be inadmissible, as explained in a recent opinion delivered in a Maryland medical malpractice case. If you suffered losses due to the carelessness of a physician, it is smart to confer with a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about what evidence you must offer to establish liability.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was expecting her first child, treated with the defendant throughout the course of her pregnancy. The care administered included a routine screening test to determine the biophysical profile of the fetus. The test was administered when the plaintiff was 34 weeks pregnant, and the test results were normal. The defendant recommended that the plaintiff undergo the test each remaining week of her pregnancy, but the plaintiff went into labor six days later.

Allegedly, the baby was delivered via c-section due to her intolerance of labor. She needed to be resuscitated at birth and was admitted to the intensive care unit. She was later diagnosed with permanent brain injuries. The plaintiff instituted medical malpractice claims against the defendant. The plaintiff’s expert opined testified that the defendant should have ordered the screening test to be conducted twice weekly and that his failure to do so constituted negligence. The defendant moved for summary judgment and to strike the causation testimony of the plaintiff’s expert. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Sufficiency of Expert Testimony in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

The sole issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff’s expert’s causation testimony lacked a sufficient factual basis and therefore was properly precluded. The court explained that under Maryland law, expert testimony is admissible if it will assist the trier of fact in resolving a fact in issue or understanding the evidence and if a sufficient factual basis exists to support the testimony. In other words, expert testimony must be more than mere speculation or conjecture.

There are two subfactors to the sufficiency of the factual basis – reliable methodology and a sufficient supply of data. In the subject case, the court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s expert failed to provide the requisite data and methodology needed to support his opinion. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to an Assertive Maryland Attorney

Expert testimony is an essential part of Maryland medical malpractice cases, but such testimony must be based on the facts of the case and valid scientific methods; otherwise, it is likely to be deemed inadmissible. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of negligent treatment from a doctor, you might be able to seek compensation via medical malpractice claims, and you should speak to a lawyer. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can examine the facts of your case and gather any evidence in your favor to help you seek any damages you may be owed. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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