Reasonable Physician Test Applies in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

If you have been injured due to a surgeon’s negligence, it is important to reach out to a seasoned Baltimore surgical malpractice attorney who can evaluate the facts of your case. At Arfaa Law Group, we understand how important is it to keep ourselves informed about medical malpractice law so that we can come up with an effective legal strategy in your case. With years of experience, you can rest assured that we know how to navigate these types of cases.

In a recent decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, held that the trial court erred by giving jury instructions on negligence that led jurors to assess the physician’s conduct in a medical malpractice case from a reasonable person standpoint. Jurors in medical malpractice cases must assess not how a reasonable person would have treated the patient but instead what a reasonable medical professional in the same specialty should have done under the same or similar circumstances.

After years of neck and shoulder pain, the plaintiff in this case sought help from the defendant neurosurgeon. At that time, they discussed both surgical and nonsurgical treatments. The plaintiff agreed to the surgeon’s recommendation of a four-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery. The plaintiff’s recovery went well, but there were subsequent complications. The plaintiff ultimately filed a claim against the surgeon for malpractice and failure to obtain informed consent.

Medical malpractice claims are appropriate when a medical professional’s error or carelessness causes injuries to a patient. In order to establish malpractice, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:  i) the medical professional owed the patient a duty to use reasonable care; ii) the medical professional breached the duty to use reasonable care owed to the patient; and iii) the medical professional’s breach was a direct cause of the patient’s harm.

While the ‘reasonable’ person standard is typically appropriate in determining negligence in personal injury cases, in specialized fields such as medicine, the question is what a physician in that specialty would have done in the same situation. In other words, a health care provider is negligent if he or she does not use the degree of care and skill that a reasonably competent health care provider engaged in a similar practice and acting in similar circumstances would use. As a result, the initial jury instruction was improper because it was framed in terms of the conduct of a reasonable person, which is inapplicable in a medical malpractice case.

If you or someone close to you has been harmed by a medical professional’s negligence, we can help. At Arfaa Law Group, our diligent Baltimore surgery malpractice lawyers can investigate the facts of your case and provide you with an honest assessment of your claim. Our firm is comprised of compassionate and competent attorneys who pride themselves on being well versed in the nuances of this area of the law. To learn more about your legal rights and options, do not hesitate to call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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