Maryland Court Discusses Expert Reports in Skilled Nursing Malpractice Cases

Expert testimony is a key component of Maryland medical malpractice cases. Pursuant to Maryland law, only certain people are qualified to provide expert reports in claims alleging medical negligence, however. As discussed in a recent Maryland ruling, this may include nurses in cases involving skilled nursing care. If you sustained losses due to inadequate medical care, you should speak to a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer about what evidence you will need to present a winning case.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant, alleging negligence in the care provided to her late husband. The plaintiff claimed that the decedent developed pressure ulcers during his stay at the facility, which were allegedly neglected, leading to infection and his eventual death. Supported by a Certificate of Qualified Expert (CQE) from a registered nurse that highlighted systemic deficiencies in the defendant’s preventive measures and regulatory compliance, the plaintiff asserted that the defendant failed to meet the accepted standard of care.

Reportedly, the defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that the CQE provided by the nurse did not comply with Maryland statutes and rules. Specifically, the defendant argued that, according to Maryland law, registered nurses are not qualified to provide expert testimony on proximate causation, as it falls outside the scope of their practice, which is limited to nursing diagnoses. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Certificates of Qualified Experts in Skilled Nursing Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court addressed whether the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion to dismiss based on its interpretation of the CQE requirement under Maryland’s Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (HCMCA).

The court concluded that in negligence cases involving decubitus ulcer injury against a skilled nursing facility, a CQE could be based on a proximate causation opinion by a registered nurse with sufficient expertise in preventing and treating the alleged injuries.

In doing so, the court emphasized that this interpretation aligns with Maryland’s statutory and regulatory framework governing nursing services at skilled nursing facilities. It noted that federal regulations classify the care of decubitus ulcers as “skilled nursing care,” further supporting the role of registered nurses in such cases.

Additionally, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that nurses cannot opine on proximate causation, stating that preventing and treating decubitus ulcers are within the scope of skilled nursing services. Therefore, the court held that a CQE may be based on attestations by a registered nurse regarding breaches of nursing standards that proximately caused the alleged injuries. Finally, the court found the CQE provided by the plaintiff’s expert to be sufficient in supporting both breach and proximate causation attestations. Consequently, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings.

Talk to a Dedicated Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm because of inadequate medical care, you should talk to an attorney about your potential claims. The dedicated Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can assess your case and advise you of your options for seeking damages. To arrange a conference, you can reach us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

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