Knowing when to seek medical treatment can be a complicated and very personal decision. Whether that decision has any effect on a health provider’s liability for negligence was the issue in an April 26, 2018 Maryland medical malpractice case before the Court of Special Appeals.
The plaintiff in the case filed a medical malpractice claim against his physician, alleging that the physician negligently cut the plaintiff’s bile duct while surgically removing his inflamed gallbladder. Before visiting the physician, the plaintiff had gone to the emergency room for stomach pains. The plaintiff left, however, before the condition could be diagnosed, and he waited an additional 11 days before seeking treatment again from the defendant, who performed the surgery.
The defendant denied any negligence and further alleged, as a defense, that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in failing to timely seek treatment for severe abdominal pains. The jury ultimately found that the defendant was not negligent. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the defense was improper because any alleged contributory negligence occurred before he sought treatment from the defendant.