The procedures for bringing a Maryland medical malpractice action can be complicated in some cases. In a June 28, 2018 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the plaintiff could pursue a claim against his doctor and hospital after the circuit court dismissed his case for failing to comply with requirements of the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (Act). The primary issue for the appeals court was whether the lower court’s dismissal was improper.
The plaintiff in the case underwent heart surgery and, following medical complications, was admitted to the intensive care unit. In the ICU, he developed pressure ulcers, which required additional treatment. He filed a claim against the defendants, alleging negligence in failing to implement procedures to prevent the ulcers and failing to treat them.
To initiate a claim under the Act, a plaintiff must first file his claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office and, within ninety days, submit a certificate of a qualified expert attesting to the alleged negligence. The plaintiff can then waive arbitration and file suit in circuit court. The certificate must meet specific requirements, one of which is to identify the allegedly negligent physician by name. If the certificate is not filed or it is insufficient, the claim will be dismissed, unless a 90 day extension is granted for the plaintiff to submit a valid certificate.