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Maryland Court Discusses the Impact of Improper Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

There are numerous claims a person harmed by incompetent medical care may pursue. For example, a person may assert a medical malpractice claim or failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent claim. While parties can pursue both claims in one action, they each have different elements that must be proven to recover damages. As such, it may be improper for a defendant to introduce evidence that a defendant obtained a plaintiff’s informed consent prior to a procedure in a matter in which she is solely asserting a medical malpractice claim. The ramifications of evidence relevant to other claims were the topic of a recent Maryland opinion in a surgical malpractice case in which the plaintiff argued the trial court erred in admitting improper evidence. If you suffered harm because of a negligently performed procedure, it is smart to meet with a Maryland surgical malpractice lawyer regarding your options for seeking damages.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the defendant performed a surgical repair of the plaintiff’s hernia. She was discharged with instructions and a prescription for pain medication. The evening after she was discharged, she experienced abdominal pain and was advised to fill her prescription. Five days later, she returned to the hospital with complaints of pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. She was transferred to the emergency department, where it was determined that she was suffering from a perforated colon.

Allegedly, she underwent an emergency procedure to repair the perforation, and the record noted she was suffering from a missed colotomy. She had to undergo several additional procedures to repair her harm. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting a medical malpractice claim. Prior to trial, she filed a motion asking the court to preclude the defendant from introducing evidence of informed consent and that the harm suffered was a known risk of the procedure. The court denied the motion as premature, but during the trial, such evidence was introduced. The jury issued a defense verdict, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing the admission of informed consent evidence was improper.

The Impact of Improper Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

In an informed consent action, a plaintiff must assert that the defendant failed to inform her of the risks associated with the care provided by the defendant. Providing medical services without informed consent, if properly pled, constitutes a separate and new cause of action. In other words, while breach of informed consent and medical malpractice claims both sounds in negligence, they are separate and distinct theories of liability.

In the subject case, there was no lack of informed consent claim, but evidence relevant to an informed consent claim was introduced at trial. The defendant argued, though, that the plaintiff opened the door to the admission of such evidence. The court noted that while the opening the door doctrine expands the rule of relevancy, it is not without limitations. In the subject case, the appellate court ultimately determined that the evidence in question was not admitted in error. Thus, it affirmed the jury’s verdict.

Meet with an Experienced Maryland Attorney

Errors during surgical procedures can cause significant harm, and surgeons that carelessly injure patients should be held accountable. If you were hurt by surgical errors, you could be owed compensation, and you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group have the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable outcome, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.

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