Maryland Court Discusses Establishing Liability for Treatment Delays

Cancer is a devastating illness, but in many instances, patients can go into remission with treatment. Metastatic cancer, however, is usually fatal, and while treatment can help slow the progression of the disease, it cannot offer a cure. As such, a doctor’s delays in providing treatment to a patient with terminal cancer may not constitute malpractice, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland case. If you lost a loved one due to a doctor’s delays in diagnosing or treating a terminal illness, it is smart to speak to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent sought treatment for pian in his groin in 2013. He was subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer. A bone scan in November 2014 showed that the cancer had spread to his hip. The cancer was reclassified as metastatic, which is fatal. The decedent treated with an oncologist for the next year and a half and then was incarcerated. During his confinement, his care was managed by the defendant health services company and its employees.

Reportedly, due to communication issues between the defendant and the decedent’s previous care providers, there was a three-month delay in prescribing and treating the decedent with a specific cancer drug. The decedent ultimately passed away, and the plaintiff brought medical malpractice claims and other causes of action against the defendant. The defendant then moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Liability for Treatment Delays

The court found that the defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court reiterated that a plaintiff seeking to prove a defendant’s medical negligence must demonstrate the standard of care, show that the defendant violated the standard, and establish that the violation caused the plaintiff’s harm.

Thus, the threshold inquiry is whether the defendant’s behavior proximately caused an injury. In the subject case, the court found that contrary to the plaintiff’s assertions, there was no evidence that an earlier administration of the drug in question would have extended or improved the decedent’s life. Instead, the record reflected that it would have had the same effect had it been started three months earlier. As such, the plaintiff failed to establish causation, as required to recover damages for medical negligence, and his claim was properly dismissed.

Talk to a Dedicated Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

A prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential to a cancer patient’s prognosis, as unnecessary delays can often cause permanent harm. If you or a loved one sustained losses because of a delayed diagnosis or care, you may have grounds for pursuing medical malpractice claims, and it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney. The dedicated Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group possess the skills and resources needed to obtain favorable results in malpractice cases, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.

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