Articles Posted in Medical Negligence

Some Maryland medical malpractice cases may arise out of a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed condition by a health care practitioner.  In a November 23, 2020 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a case brought by the personal estate of a cancer patient and her family against the radiologist who treated her.  The matter was on appeal after the trial court entered judgment in favor of the defendant despite the jury’s verdict for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to diagnose the decedent’s breast cancer.  In 2011, the decedent had received a routine breast cancer examination from the defendants, who found no abnormalities.  Six months later, the decedent discovered a lump in her right breast and returned to the defendants’ practice in May of 2012.  After performing a mammogram, the defendants concluded that the lump was benign.

Fifteen months later, the decedent returned for a follow-up examination and mammogram, which showed an abnormality in her right breast.  The decedent underwent a biopsy a month later, which revealed that she had Stage III breast cancer.  Despite two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the cancer spread.  The decedent died in February of 2016 at the age of 56.

Continue reading

Testimony of a medical expert may be crucial to succeed in a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.  In a September 2, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the opinion of the plaintiff’s medical expert met the requirements of the Maryland Civil Rules.  The issue was raised by the defendants, who appealed a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff for almost $300,000.

In the case, the defendants had performed a total hip replacement on the plaintiff.  Shortly after the surgery, the plaintiff began to experience severe pain and discomfort.  The defendants ordered x-rays several days later, which revealed that the prosthetic had perforated through the plaintiff’s femur and into the muscles of his thigh.  The plaintiff subsequently underwent another surgery to correctly place the prosthetic.

The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice suit against the surgeon and the hospital, alleging that the defendants failed to diagnose and correct the misplaced prosthetic during or after the first surgery.  At trial, the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that the defendants did not meet the standard of care because they had failed to use x-rays during the surgery or order x-rays following the surgery.  After the jury found the defendants negligent, the defendants appealed.

Continue reading

A Maryland wrongful death action based on the negligence of police or law enforcement officers generally has a higher burden of proof than a typical negligence claim.  In a September 24, 2020 wrongful death case arising out of a police shooting, the Maryland Court of Special Appeal considered whether summary judgment was properly granted in favor of the police officer.

The defendant in the case attempted to pull over the decedent, who was driving an SUV that matched the description of a vehicle that had eluded the police weeks ago after a high-speed chase.  The decedent sped away, with the defendant following him through a residential neighborhood.  The decedent then got out of the SUV, kicked in the door of a townhouse, and ran upstairs.  The police officer testified that after he ordered the decedent to come down, the decedent rushed down the stairs quickly and aggressively, leading the officer to believe that he was attempting to take his weapon.  The defendant stated that although he fired his weapon at the decedent, the decedent continued down the stairs and grabbed him.  During the struggle, the officer fired several shots, and the decedent ultimately died from a gunshot wound to his chest.

The survivors of the decedent brought a wrongful death claim against the police officer.  The trial court, finding that the officer had acted reasonably, granted judgment in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing that the issue of reasonableness should have been determined by a jury.

Continue reading

One of the elements of a Maryland medical malpractice claim requires the plaintiff to establish that the defendant’s actions fell below the standard of care of a medical professional practicing under the same circumstances.  To prove this element, the plaintiff must present a qualified medical expert to testify that the defendant breached the standard of care.  In an October 2, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the testimony of the plaintiff’s medical expert was precluded by the “twenty-percent rule,” which generally bars experts who spend more than twenty percent of their professional activities directly involved in testifying as exert witnesses.

The plaintiff in the case was the surviving wife of the decedent, who had died from complications following back surgery.  She brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who treated the decedent and the doctor’s practice group.  The plaintiff filed a certificate of qualified expert, as provided under the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act.  The certificate indicated that the plaintiff’s medical expert, an orthopedic surgeon, would testify that the defendant violated the standard of care by failing to recognize that the decedent was a high-risk patient and by not opting for alternative treatments to surgery.  The certificate also contained the required statement that no more than twenty percent of the expert’s activities were related to testifying as an expert witness.

At trial, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s expert had not produced sufficient evidence of compliance with the twenty percent rule, and moved to disqualify him.  The trial court denied the motion, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in excess of $900,000.  After trial, the defendant renewed its objection as to the expert.  The trial court reconsidered the issue, finding that it had erred in allowing the expert to testify, and entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff then appealed the ruling.

Continue reading

In most Maryland medical malpractice cases, the negligence of a physician must be established by the testimony of an expert witness.  A rare exception to the general rule requiring expert testimony is made only when such medical negligence is obvious and within the common knowledge of an ordinary person.  In an August 24, 2020 case, the Court of Appeals of Maryland considered whether expert testimony was also required to establish the medical negligence of a non-party physician.  The defendant in the case raised the issue of a non-party physician’s medical negligence as part of his defense.

The plaintiff in the case was diagnosed with a kidney tumor and enlarged lymph node in August 2011.  The defendant surgically removed the plaintiff’s kidney, but did not remove the lymph node as planned because of its proximity to a vital blood vessel.  Following surgery, the plaintiff was treated by an oncologist, who ordered periodic CT scans of the lymph node.  In 2015, a biopsy was performed, which indicated that the lymph node was cancerous and had increased in size, rendering it inoperable.

The plaintiff brought medical malpractice claims against multiple physicians involved in his treatment, with the exception of his oncologist.  The plaintiff alleged that, had the defendants either removed the lymph node in the 2011 surgery, or alerted his oncologist that the lymph node was increasing in size, it could have been safely removed earlier.  At trial, the court permitted the jury to consider the issue raised by the defendants of the oncologist’s alleged medical negligence, although no expert testimony was presented to support the defendants’ assertions.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed.

Continue reading

Expert testimony may be crucial to establish a medical malpractice claim in Maryland.  A party’s failure to identify a medical expert witness before the discovery deadline may result in sanctions.  In a July 7, 2020 Maryland medical malpractice case, the Court of Special Appeals reviewed the decision of a trial court to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness.  The plaintiff sought the appeal after judgment was granted in favor of the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was involved in a car accident and suffered a neck strain.  She sought medical treatment from the defendant, a healthcare practice that included chiropractic services, and was treated by two doctors who were also defendants in the case.  The plaintiff brought a medical negligence suit against them, alleging that the chiropractic treatments performed by the doctors caused damage to a spinal cord stimulator that was previously implanted in her neck.

Before trial, the plaintiff had timely identified one expert medical witness by the required deadline.  At some point after the deadline, the plaintiff realized that her designated medical expert could not testify as to the causation element of her claim.  Almost two months after the deadline had passed, the plaintiff sought to add a board-certified neurosurgeon as an expert witness to testify as to causation.  The circuit court denied the request, and as a result, the plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case for medical malpractice.

Continue reading

Informed consent is an important part of medical care.  If a health care provider fails to disclose certain information to the patient before a procedure or examination, they may face a Maryland medical malpractice claim.  In an August 6, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether a new trial was necessary after the jury found in favor of the defendant on the claims for informed consent and medical negligence.

The plaintiff in the case sought treatment from the defendant for kidney and ureteral stones.  During the appointment, the defendant had the plaintiff completely disrobe.  The defendant then performed digital pelvic and rectal examinations, which had no medical value for the purpose of treating the plaintiff’s kidney stones.  The plaintiff felt violated and was later diagnosed with anxiety and PTSD.

The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, alleging claims for negligence and failure to obtain informed consent.  The lower court granted summary judgment on the issue of informed consent only with respect to the elements of duty and breach.  The issues of causation and damages were then tried before a jury.  At trial, the jury was told only that the court had already ruled that the defendant did not obtain informed consent for the treatment of a kidney stone.  The jury ultimately found that the plaintiff was not damaged by the lack of consent.

Continue reading

Personal injuries arising out of negligent heath care providers may be subject to the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act.  A Maryland medical malpractice attorney can guide you through the requirements and deadlines of the Act.  In a June 17, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether the plaintiff’s delay in filing a medical malpractice complaint against a nursing home was grounds for dismissal.

The plaintiff in the case was admitted to the nursing facility for rehabilitation following his hip replacement surgery.  He alleged that he developed pressure ulcers in several areas of his body during his stay there, which became infected and ultimately led to a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.

Almost three years after he left the nursing facility, the plaintiff initiated an action under the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act.  The defendant waived arbitration, which triggered the 60-day window in which the plaintiff must file his complaint in circuit court.  The plaintiff missed the deadline, however, and did not file the complaint until five months later.  The defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the delay was inherently prejudicial.  The circuit court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Continue reading

The Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act governs medical malpractice actions in Maryland.  To file a claim under the Act, a plaintiff must follow the requirements provided therein.  In a May 26, 2020 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed whether the plaintiff had complied with the certification requirements under the Act.  The issue came before the court on appeal by the plaintiff, who had filed a negligence claim against a hospital.

The plaintiff in the case alleged that he suffered injuries as a result of the defendant’s employees negligently dropping him into a chair during the course of his recovery from back surgery.  In accordance with the Act’s requirements, the plaintiff filed a Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report.  The certificate was completed and signed by a registered nurse.  The plaintiff then filed an election to waive arbitration and proceed in circuit court, which was granted.

In circuit court, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the certificate was deficient because it was signed by a registered nurse, and not by a medical doctor.  The trial court agreed with the defendant, finding that the certificate was deficient and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.  The plaintiff brought the subsequent appeal.

Continue reading

A Maryland medical malpractice claim requires an expert witness to testify in support of the plaintiff’s case.  Failure to secure an expert medical witness, or provide admissible expert testimony may result in a dismissal of the claim.  In a January 10, 2020 medical negligence case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed whether the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness was excluded improperly by the circuit court.  That decision resulted in a dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, prompting her subsequent appeal.

The plaintiff in the case had received medical treatment from the defendant after suffering fractures to her pelvis and arm.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to timely diagnose and treat an oral infection, which led to pain, an inability to eat, and weight loss.  To support her medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff presented an expert medical witness to testify.

After the deposition of the plaintiff’s expert witness, the defendant moved to exclude his testimony, arguing that he had failed to define the standard of care during his deposition.  The plaintiff sought leave of court to recall her expert and have him clarify his standard of care testimony.  The circuit court did not specifically address the plaintiff’s request, but ruled that the testimony would be excluded because he never specifically stated the standard of care.  The case was then dismissed, as he was the plaintiff’s sole expert witness.

Continue reading

Contact Information