In Medical malpractice cases, the records, notes, and charts produced by the defendant doctor are often key in establishing liability. Not all materials created by doctors are discoverable, however, as some are protected from disclosure by privilege. In a recent Maryland ruling issued in a hospital malpractice case, a court discussed what materials are privileged in medical malpractice claims pursued against the United States government. If you suffered injuries due to a careless physician, it is smart to speak to a skilled Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover damages.
The History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice case against the United States government alleging their minor child suffered harm due to negligent care provided by anesthesiologists when he underwent surgery at a federally owned hospital. One of the anesthesiologists testified during his deposition that he wrote himself an email following the surgery, setting forth his recollections regarding the procedure. The plaintiffs requested the email in discovery, after which the anesthesiologist advised he had written it to the other anesthesiologist involved in the procedure.
Allegedly, the government reviewed the email, and determined it was a quality assurance record created for the Department of Defense and was therefore privileged. The plaintiffs moved to compel the production of the email arguing that it was not privileged. The court denied the motion and issued a finding that the email was privileged. The plaintiffs appealed.
Privileged Quality Assurance Documents in Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical quality assurance records, as defined by the relevant statute, include records, minutes, proceedings, and reports that arise out of the activities of quality assurance programs and are compiled or produced by the Department of Defense as part of such programs. In the subject case, the plaintiffs argued that as the anesthesiologist testified that he drafted the email in question as a note to himself, it did not qualify as a document derived from a proceeding and was not a record, minute, or report that emanated from a Department of Defense program.
Thus, the plaintiffs argued that it did not qualify as a privileged document and must be disclosed. The court rejected this argument, noting that a review of the evidence of record and materials submitted by both parties did not demonstrate the trial court made an error with regard to its assessment of the facts or the law. As such, it affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with a Trusted Maryland Attorney
Proving liability in a medical malpractice case is often a fact-intensive process, but not all materials demonstrating a defendant’s liability can be obtained via discovery. If you suffered losses due to the negligence of a doctor, it is smart to meet with a lawyer to examine your options for seeking damages. The trusted Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers of Arfaa Law Group can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and gather any available evidence that will help you establish medical negligence. We can be contacted via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.