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Maryland Appellate Reinstates Medical Malpractice Verdict After Addressing Jury Instruction Issue

Unfortunately, medical mistakes are routinely the cause of injury to patients in Maryland. If you or a family member has suffered undue harm because of medical negligence, our highly skilled Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys can help. At Arfaa Law Group, we will investigate your case and come up with a legal strategy accordingly.

The Case

In Armacost v. Davis, the plaintiff went to see a neurosurgeon after years of neck and shoulder pain, as well as numbness in his right hand. After discussing various options, the plaintiff agreed to undergo four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery. After the surgery, the plaintiff initially recovered well but then had to go to the emergency room a number of times due to a pinpoint opening at the end of his incision and, later, due to chest pain and periodic numbness in his left arm. Later, the pinpoint opening became an abscess and tested positive for a bacterial infection.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim against the neurosurgeon, claiming the procedure he underwent was not medically required and was inappropriate for someone of his age with his medical history. In addition, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant and the hospital took too long to diagnose and treat the post-operative infection. The defendant, on the other hand, argued that the diagnosis and treatment provided adhered to the appropriate standard of care.

At the end of the trial, the court provided instructions about general negligence and then provided instructions regarding the heightened standard of care that is applicable to doctors. Specifically, the court told the jury that a neurosurgeon is required to act how a reasonably prudent neurosurgeon would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. When the doctor asked the court to have the standard of care measured solely based on the expectations for a neurosurgeon, the judge refused to modify the jury instructions in the case. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

The Appeal

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court judge confused the jurors by providing general negligence instructions before providing the correct standard of care instructions that should have been applied to doctors. Maryland’s top court disagreed with the defendant and reinstated a $329,000 medical malpractice verdict holding that the lower court’s failure to instruct the jury clearly about a physician’s heightened standard of case did not impact the jury’s decision. Even though the judge’s instruction conflating the reasonable person standard with the medical standard of care may have been unclear, the judge did not mislead the jury as to the applicable law.

Contact a Skilled Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical injuries can have devastating consequences. If you or someone close to you has been the victim of medical malpractice, we can help. At Arfaa Law Group, our seasoned Baltimore surgery malpractice attorneys will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve in your case. We know this is an incredibly difficult time for you and your family, which is why we are committed to providing compassionate representation every step of the way. Call us today at 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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