Maryland Court Explains Expert Qualifications in Medical Malpractice Cases

Expert testimony is essential in Maryland medical malpractice cases as it helps the jury to understand complex medical issues and determine whether the defendant breached the standard of care, causing harm to the plaintiff. Thus, if a plaintiff is precluded from offering expert testimony, it may be devastating to their claims. Not all medical professionals are qualified to testify as an expert, however. Rather, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland case, only providers that practice in the same specialty as the defendant or a related specialty will be permitted to testify on issues such as the standard of care and the defendant’s failure to uphold the standard. If you were hurt by the carelessness of a physician, you might be owed compensation, and it is smart to speak to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant to obtain a chemical peel on the skin of her face. She subsequently suffered intense pain, chemical burns, and scarring. As such, she filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting claims of medical malpractice, failure to obtain informed consent, and other claims. The case proceeded to trial before a jury; during the trial, the court ruled that the plaintiff’s medical expert could not express an opinion about the standard of care for the chemical peel application because he was not board certified in a related specialty, as required by the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the court. The plaintiff and defendant both appealed.

Expert Testimony in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court addressed the issue of whether the trial court erred in precluding the plaintiff’s medical expert from testifying. The court ultimately ruled that the trial court’s reasoning was sound and therefore affirmed the ruling. Maryland law provides that a healthcare provider may not be held liable for medical negligence unless it is established that the care given is not in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same profession with similar training and experience in the same or similar communities at the time of the alleged act giving rise to the cause of action.

The statute also specifies the qualifications a healthcare provider must have to testify in court concerning compliance with standards of care, including having clinical experience or having taught in the same or related field of healthcare. One of the exceptions to the qualification requirement is when the defendant doctor was providing care or treatment unrelated to their board certification.

In this case, the treatment at issue was a cosmetic chemical peel; however, the plaintiff’s expert was a certified OB/GYN, which the court stated was clearly not a related specialty. Therefore, the court found that the plaintiff’s expert was not qualified to offer standard of care opinions on the treatment and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Skilled Maryland Attorney

A plaintiff pursuing medical malpractice claims in Maryland must offer competent evidence, which usually includes expert testimony, in order to prevail. If you suffered harm because of the carelessness of a doctor, it is in your best interest to confer with a lawyer about whether you may be able to recover damages in a malpractice lawsuit. The skilled Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at establishing the liability of negligent doctors, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can contact us by calling us at (410) 889-1850 or using our form online to set up a meeting.

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