Court Explains Causation in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

People experiencing critical health concerns will often visit emergency departments with the expectation that they will receive a timely diagnosis and appropriate care. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and delayed and missed diagnoses can lead to grave harm. As discussed in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case, a plaintiff who demonstrates a defendant’s careless delays caused them harm may be able to recover damages. If you were hurt by negligent medical care, it is wise to confer with a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer about your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the defendant hospital with symptoms of severe swelling, pain, and immobility in her left hand and arm, which progressively worsened over four days. Despite consultations and some imaging, no definitive diagnosis was made, and appropriate urgent surgical actions were not taken. On the fifth day, the plaintiff sought treatment at another medical center, where she was diagnosed and treated, but by then, significant and irreversible tissue damage had occurred.

Allegedly, the plaintiff, accompanied by her spouse, filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice claims against several medical professionals at the defendant hospital and the defendant hospital itself, claiming their failure to promptly diagnose and treat her necrotizing fasciitis led to permanent disability and loss of consortium. A subset of the defendants moved for summary judgment. They contended that even if their standard of care was breached, it did not cause the plaintiff’s permanent injuries. The plaintiffs opposed the motion.

Evidence of Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court evaluated the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, focusing on whether the plaintiffs presented sufficient expert testimony to establish causation in their medical malpractice claim. Maryland law requires that for a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must demonstrate the standard elements of negligence, including duty, breach, causation, and damages, typically supported by expert testimony.

The court applied the “substantial factor” test, which is pertinent when multiple factors or actors may have contributed to the harm. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s adverse outcomes were not caused by their actions since the plaintiff received a CT scan and surgical consultation before the critical period ended, suggesting that the misdiagnosis by the surgical consultant would have occurred regardless of the timing of their actions.

However, the court found that a jury could reasonably interpret the expert testimony in a manner that supported a sliding scale of harm rather than a fixed point of no return and that earlier intervention might have mitigated the plaintiff’s permanent injuries. Therefore, the court denied the motion for summary judgment, concluding that the plaintiffs provided adequate evidence to present their case to a jury.

Meet with an Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured due to a doctor’s negligence, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer to review the compensation you may be able to claim. The expert Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can evaluate your potential claims and assist you in seeking justice. To schedule a meeting, contact us via our online form or call (410) 889-1850.

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