In Maryland, actions brought under the Health Care and Malpractice Act include lawsuits for negligent dental treatment, in addition to medical malpractice. To establish a dental negligence action, opinion testimony from a dental or medical expert witness is generally required. In an August 11, 2021 case, the Court of Special Appeals considered whether a lower court erred in determining that the expert opinions of the plaintiff’s witnesses were inadmissible evidence, which then served as the basis for granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.
The plaintiff in the case alleged that she suffered a permanent loss of feeling in her tongue as a result of her oral surgeon severing lingual nerves in her jaw during the extraction of her wisdom teeth. She filed a lawsuit asserting malpractice claims against the doctor, the surgery center, and the dentist who treated her afterward.
The plaintiff designated two expert witnesses to testify that her injury was more likely than not caused by a severed lingual nerve, which was preventable had the defendants not deviated from the standard of care when removing her wisdom teeth. Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgement, arguing that the plaintiff’s expert opinion evidence was insufficient. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the expert opinions were inadmissible because they relied on impermissible inferences of negligence and were not based on the plaintiff’s treatment records.