Maryland Court Highlights the Differences Between Medical Negligence and Informed Consent Claims

In Maryland, there are numerous acts that may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. For example, a patient may pursue claims against a practitioner for failing to properly diagnose the patient in a timely manner or operating on the wrong part of the patient’s body, which may constitute medical negligence. Practitioners may fail to advise the patient of the risks and other information regarding a procedure, which may be deemed a failure to obtain informed consent. Recently, a Maryland court highlighted the differences between medical negligence and the failure to obtain informed consent, in a case in which the defendant sought dismissal of the plaintiff’s informed consent claims. If you suffered harm due to improper medical care, it is advisable to meet with a diligent Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was admitted to a hospital in August 2017, following a fall, where he complained of pain and swelling in his left knee. He was then transferred to another hospital where he underwent an evaluation by an orthopedic surgeon, who noted the decedent was not a candidate for surgery and should be placed on antibiotics. He was prescribed antibiotics and discharged. He was then transferred back to the detention center where he had previously been incarcerated but he did not fill his prescription or take the prescribed antibiotics. However, he continued to complain of issues in his knee, and his condition deteriorated. He was ultimately transferred to a hospital, where he died of sepsis. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, the healthcare provider for the detention center, alleging numerous claims, including failure to obtain informed consent. The defendant sought dismissal of the failure to obtain an informed consent claim via summary judgment.

Establishing an Informed Consent Claim Under Maryland Law

Under Maryland law, in analyzing whether a plaintiff can recover on a claim that a provider failed to obtain a patient’s informed consent, the court will examine whether the defendant provider sufficiently disclosed information regarding the patient’s treatment or procedure. Thus, the essential element of an informed consent claim is the defendant provider’s duty to provide the patient with information sufficient to allow the patient to make an informed and intelligent choice after disclosing the material risks and date about the proposed treatment. Thus, a plaintiff seeking to hold a defendant liable for failing to provide a patient with adequate information regarding a procedure must show that the defendant actually possessed the information that should have been revealed.

In the subject case, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s employees failed to advise the plaintiff’s decedent of the consequences of failing to take the antibiotics for the infection in his left knee. The court noted, however, that the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the infection was not diagnosed in a timely manner, and therefore developed into sepsis, not that the plaintiff had a known diagnosis and was not informed of the risks of failing to comply with the treatment for that diagnosis. Thus, the court found that the plaintiff’s claims were founded in negligence, not failure to obtain informed consent, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.

Meet with a Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If your health was harmed by inadequate medical treatment, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney regarding what compensation you may be owed.  The assertive Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your options for protecting your rights and assist you in pursuing the full amount of damages you may be eligible to recover. You can contact us at (410) 889-1850 or through our form online to schedule a conference.

Contact Information