Maryland Court Explains Evidence Needed to Establish Standards of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

To prevail in a Maryland medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated the applicable standard of care. To do so, they must, among other things, provide expert testimony establishing the standard of care and the ways in which the defendant deviated from it. Doctors are not universally required to opine on the standard of care, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland case. If you were harmed by incompetent medical treatment and have questions about your rights, it is sensible to consult a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer to determine your options.

Case Facts and Procedure

It is alleged that the plaintiff presented to the emergency room with symptoms of reduced blood flow in the lower right leg. The emergency medicine doctor, noting the plaintiff’s abnormal ankle-brachial index scores, advised her to consult a vascular surgeon within three to five days and to return if symptoms worsened. Two days later, the plaintiff returned with exacerbated symptoms and was eventually admitted to the hospital.

Reportedly, despite the recommendation for a consultation, the vascular surgeon did not see the plaintiff immediately, and she ultimately underwent an amputation below the knee. The plaintiff and her husband sued the emergency room physician and the vascular surgeon, alleging medical negligence and lack of informed consent. At trial, the court granted judgment in favor of the emergency medicine physician on the informed consent claim, and the jury returned a defense verdict on all counts. The plaintiff appealed.

Establishing the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in part and vacated it in part. First, the court upheld the trial court’s decision to preclude the plaintiff’s vascular surgery expert from testifying regarding the emergency medicine physician’s alleged breach of the standard of care.

In doing so, it reasoned that since the physician was board-certified in emergency medicine, testimony against her standard of care required a similarly certified physician. As for the informed consent claim, the court concurred with the trial court’s ruling that the emergency medicine physician’s recommendations did not constitute a treatment plan requiring informed consent for alternative options.

Regarding the vascular surgeon, the court found that the trial court erred in not allowing the plaintiff’s expert witness to testify about the standard of care, as internal rules of a medical practice do not establish the national standard of care. The court also upheld the trial court’s decision to permit separate peremptory strikes for the two groups of defendants due to their adverse positions. Finally, the court affirmed the jury instruction on proximate cause, finding that the instruction given properly covered the relevant legal principles.

Meet with an Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you sustained injuries because of the carelessness of a physician, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer to evaluate what compensation you may be able to recover. The experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group can examine your potential claims and aid you in seeking justice. To set up a conference, you can reach us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.

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