In a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit, testimony from expert witnesses can be crucial to explain scientific issues to a jury and establish or refute an element of negligence. In a December 7, 2018 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland considered whether the testimony of the defendants’ expert witness was properly allowed into a jury trial in a medical malpractice action. Ultimately, after hearing the testimony, as well as testimony from other experts, the jury found that the defendants were not negligent in providing medical care to the plaintiff. The plaintiff subsequently filed an appeal, challenging the admissibility of the expert’s testimony.
The plaintiff in the case had undergone a surgical removal of her right lung. A month later, she woke up with swelling and pain in her left leg and went to the emergency room. The ER doctor examined the plaintiff and completed a CT scan, which confirmed extensive blood clots in both of the plaintiff’s legs. As the plaintiff’s condition worsened, the hospital doctors concluded that her situation was too complex to handle without a vascular surgeon. Because there was no vascular surgeon on-call at the hospital at that time, arrangements were made for her to see a vascular surgeon in Baltimore.
While the plaintiff was waiting for an ambulance, the hospital’s own vascular surgeon became available on-call. Although he reviewed the plaintiff’s medical tests, he was not asked to examine the plaintiff and had no involvement in her treatment. When the plaintiff finally arrived at the Baltimore hospital, her left leg could not be saved and was ultimately amputated. The plaintiff filed a malpractice suit against the ER doctors and hospital, alleging that they did not do enough to treat her as she was waiting to be transported to Baltimore.
For their defense experts, the defendants called an emergency medicine physician and an independent vascular surgeon. In addition, and over the plaintiff’s objections, the defendants presented as a fact witness the vascular surgeon who came on call while the plaintiff was waiting to be transported from their hospital. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the on call surgeon exceeded the scope of a fact witness by providing his medical opinions.
On appeal, the court agreed that the witness had testified to matters beyond his factual observations and provided a speculative opinion that he would not have been able to treat the plaintiff, even if he had been given the chance. However, the appeals court went on to find that the admission of the witness’s testimony was a harmless error that would not have affected the outcome. The court reasoned that, to the extent the testimony overreached, it was merely cumulative of the testimony provided by the defendants’ two other experts, and therefore did not result in any prejudice to the plaintiff.
At Foran & Foran, P.A., our Maryland injury lawyers can provide knowledgeable legal guidance to victims of negligence and their family members. We handle personal injury claims arising out of negligent medical care, semi-truck and automobile collisions, premises liability accidents, and many other situations involving injuries caused by careless individuals or businesses. Request a free consultation with an experienced attorney by calling Foran & Foran, P.A. at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Plaintiff Objects to Admission of Expert’s Testimony in Medical Malpractice Appeal, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published April 27, 2018
Maryland Court Rules Expert Testimony Required to Establish Plaintiff’s Claim for Lack of Informed Consent, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 18, 2016