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Maryland Plaintiff Granted New Trial on Claims for Medical Malpractice and Informed Consent

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.

The elements of a Maryland informed consent claim include: (1) the duty to disclose to the patient material information that a physician knows, or ought to know, would be significant to a reasonable person in the patient’s position in deciding whether or not to submit to a particular medical treatment or procedure; (2) breach of that duty by failing to make an adequate disclosure; and (3) that the breach was the proximate cause of the patient’s injuries.

One of the issues on appeal was whether the information given to the jury regarding summary judgment was proper.  The appeals court concluded that the statement that the defendant “did not obtain informed consent for the treatment of a kidney stone” was plainly incorrect, as the kidney stone examination was the only reason for the plaintiff’s office visit.  Rather, it was the fact that there was no medical necessity for the pelvic and rectal examinations which should have been disclosed to the plaintiff.

The appeals court further found that the prejudice to the plaintiff was significant.  In particular, the defendant was able to concede to the informed consent issue while the seriousness of his misconduct was kept from the jury.  The appeals court therefore vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial.

If you have suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, you may seek damages from those responsible.  At Foran & Foran, P.A., our personal injury attorneys can guide you through the legal process and help you pursue compensation.  We handle a range of negligence cases, including medical malpractice, wrongful death, and premises liability claims. Make an appointment to discuss your injury with a knowledgeable lawyer by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.

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