Maryland Court Discusses Who May Sign a Certificate of a Qualified Expert and Report in Medical Malpractice Cases

In an attempt to reduce frivolous claims, the Maryland legislature enacted the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claim Act (the Act), which requires, in part, that a person who wishes to pursue medical malpractice claims must file a statement of claim and a Certificate of a Qualified Expert and Report (CQE) with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO) prior to filing a lawsuit. If a claimant fails to comply with these procedural requirements, he or she may waive the right to seek compensation. Recently, a Maryland court explained who may sign a CQE, in a case in which the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims were dismissed due to an invalid CQE. If you suffered harm due to neglectful medical care, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding what evidence you must produce to set forth a winning case.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent back surgery at the defendant hospital. Following the surgery, employees of the defendant attempted to transfer the plaintiff from a bed into a chair and negligently dropped the plaintiff, causing him to reinjure his back. The plaintiff subsequently filed a statement of claim with the HCADRO, as well as a CQE signed by a registered nurse. He then filed a complaint against the defendant in the circuit court. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the plaintiff failed to comply with the Act because a registered nurse was not qualified to testify as to causation in the CQE. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in ruling that a registered nurse is not qualified to sign a CQE.

Sufficiency of a Certificate of a Qualified Expert and Report

The Act provides that a CQE must be signed by a health care provider, and the Maryland definition of health care providers includes registered nurses. The Act also provides that an expert providing a CQE must not only opine that the defendant departed from the standard of care, but must also attest that the defendant’s departure from the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s harm.

The appellate court explained that the Act details who may sign a CQE, stating that to be a qualified expert, a person must have the same clinical experience as the defendant and if the expert is board certified, must be certified in the same specialty as the defendant. As such, while the court noted that there was no dispute that a registered nurse is a health care provider and may be qualified to testify regarding the standard of care for nurses, a registered nurse lacked the qualifications to make a medical diagnosis, and therefore could not determine a medical condition or the cause of the condition. Thus, the court ruled that a registered nurse could not sign a CQE, affirming the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Capable Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered an injury following surgery or were otherwise harmed by incompetent medical care, it is advisable to confer with a capable Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue against the parties responsible for your harm. The seasoned attorneys of Arfaa Law Group possess the resources and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome, and we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We can be contacted at (410) 889-1850 or through our online form to schedule a meeting.

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