Maryland Court Explains Expert Credentials in Medical Malpractice Cases

In Maryland medical malpractice cases, the strength of the plaintiff’s case often depends on the testimony of a qualified medical expert. If a plaintiff’s expert is unable to testify, it becomes challenging for the plaintiff to recover damages. Maryland law allows only specific individuals to provide expert testimony, and experts who lack the necessary qualifications may be prohibited from testifying. This was illustrated in a recent Maryland case in which the court precluded the plaintiff’s expert from testifying pursuant to Maryland’s 25 percent rule. If you have suffered harm due to a medical procedure gone wrong, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorney who can guide you on what compensation you may be able to recover for your injuries.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that in December 2002, the plaintiff underwent a procedure to treat a brain aneurysm, which resulted in bleeding, a stroke, and significant physical and mental impairment. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant doctor and hospital, alleging that they provided substandard care and failed to obtain the plaintiff’s informed consent for the procedure. A doctor was called as an expert witness by the plaintiff to testify about the standard of care and informed consent. However, the trial court excluded his testimony on both issues, and the court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed, and the defendants appealed the matter further.

The Court’s Review and Ruling:

On appeal, the primary issue before the court was the interpretation of Maryland’s 25 Percent Rule. This rule restricts expert witnesses from dedicating more than 25 percent of their professional activities to activities directly involving testimony in personal injury claims. The court ultimately determined that the plaintiff’s expert did not meet the requirements of the 25 Percent Rule and should not have been allowed to testify regarding the standard of care, reversing the intermediate court ruling.

In doing so, it disagreed with the intermediate court’s interpretation of “professional activities.” It held that for activities to qualify as “professional activities,” they must contribute to or advance the individual’s profession and involve active participation. While the plaintiff’s expert spent a significant amount of time on various activities related to the medical field, only his work in testifying in medical malpractice cases and assisting with peer review of medical journals counted as professional activities.

Other activities, such as reading journals, observing procedures, discussing cases with colleagues, and attending conferences, were classified as personal or leisurely pursuits and did not meet the criteria of professional activities. Consequently, the plaintiff’s expert professional activities were found to be less than 25 percent dedicated to activities directly involving testimony, and he did not meet the requirements of the 25 Percent Rule.

As a result, the court reversed the intermediate court’s decision regarding the 20 Percent Rule and held that the plaintiff’s expert was properly prevented from giving expert testimony on the standard of care, and the case proceeded accordingly.

Speak to an Experienced Maryland Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries or loss due to a negligent physician, you may have the opportunity to seek compensation, and it’s advisable to consult with an attorney. The dedicated Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Arfaa Law Group are committed to assisting individuals who have been harmed by healthcare providers’ negligence in protecting their rights and pursuing their claims. To schedule a consultation, you can contact us through our online form or by calling (410) 889-1850.




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