Our Attorneys Fight for Victims in Maryland Every Day
When you seek medical care, the last thing you expect is to suffer from injuries, or worse, due to your treatment. The law requires health care professionals to provide you with medical care that reaches a specific standard, or standard of care.
If you or someone you care about was injured by way of medical malpractice in Maryland, you need a medical malpractice law firm that will hold healthcare professionals liable for the damages they cause.
Medical malpractice claims are legally complicated. To learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim in Maryland, continue reading below or contact our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers for a free consultation.
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How Does Maryland Define Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to a healthcare professional’s failure to provide the care and exercise the skill that other healthcare professionals in a similar practice would exercise in similar situations. Medical malpractice law can hold medical professionals accountable when they fail to adhere to appropriate standards of care. This failure to provide appropriate standards of care can apply to general practitioners and specialists alike, to nurses and therapists, and to nearly any other healthcare provider or facility.
You may have a medical malpractice case in Maryland if the healthcare professional that treated you violated the standard of care. Standard of care is the generally accepted procedures and practices used by medical professionals when treating a particular disease or disorder.
A September 2017 survey by the National Patient Safety Association (NPSA) reports that most patients consider their experiences within the U.S. healthcare system to be positive, but that 21 percent of adults believe they’ve experienced a medical error. The survey also found that when medical errors do occur, the effects are often long-lasting and can impinge on the affected patient’s physical and emotional health, financial well-being, and family relationships. This survey, in effect, confirms that medical malpractice is too common and that its impact can be overwhelming.
What Is The Difference Between Negligence Vs Medical Malpractice in Marylan?
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence, however, in the eyes of the law, these two terms are defined differently. The difference between these terms may determine if you have a negligence case or a medical malpractice claim.
Negligence refers to a lack of care due to inattentiveness, lack of care, or violating the general standard of care for the situation.
Medical malpractice refers specifically to the breach of the standard of care by a medical professional, resulting directly in physical, emotional, or mental harm suffered by the patient.
Medical malpractice claims are based on the legal theory of negligence, which is the failure to exercise adequate care toward another that a reasonable or prudent person would exercise in a similar situation. In the case of medical malpractice, this negligence can involve an act or an omission.
To reach the level of medical malpractice, this diversion from the accepted standard of medical care must be shown to be the direct cause of the harm suffered by the patient. To prevail in a medical malpractice claim, in other words, you—as the injured patient—must be able to demonstrate four distinct elements:
- You were owed a duty of care by the doctor.
- The doctor breached this duty of care owed to you.
- The doctor’s breach directly caused you harm.
- As a result, you suffered a measurable injury that required verifiable medical treatment and resulted in expenses.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we recognize that every medical malpractice case is unique, however, there are some injuries and medical errors that our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers commonly see including the following:
During childbirth, babies are extremely vulnerable to physical injuries as well as any risks that could cut off the flow of oxygen to their brain. If a doctor fails to adequately screen for complications or risks, the child’s life could be put in danger. Mistakes in applying force with forceps, failing to perform an emergency C-section, and other problems could all lead to issues like nerve damage or conditions like cerebral palsy. There is also the chance of severe injuries to the mother, such as complications involving severe maternal hemorrhage.
Failed and Delayed Diagnosis
Failing to diagnose a condition can lead to further harm. If the doctor does not catch the patient’s symptoms and begin getting them the treatment they need, their condition will often grow worse. In emergency situations, failing to diagnose something like a stroke or a heart attack could mean sending a patient home when they need immediate medical care, putting their life at risk. Failing to catch a severe disease or disorder like cancer could also mean a risk of harm or worsened conditions that could have otherwise been caught early and treated quickly.
A delayed diagnosis is a big problem, but a misdiagnosis could be an even more severe problem. All of the same effects from a failed or delayed diagnosis are present with a misdiagnosis, but you might also begin receiving treatment for the wrong condition if your doctor misdiagnoses you. This can be extremely dangerous when it comes to cancer treatment involving radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or other intensive therapies. Any unnecessary surgeries or medication can cause risks and side effects that you never actually needed to face if you were misdiagnosed.
The hospital, as opposed to the individual doctor, is responsible for much of your medical care and the coordination of your care. From the safety and cleanliness of your hospital room to the day-to-day nursing care, bathing, and treatment you receive, the hospital is responsible for any mix-ups or mistakes that lead to injuries or infections. Many of the mistakes that constitute “hospital errors” would also fall under other categories of medical malpractice listed here.
Defective Medical Equipment
If you receive a medical implant or your doctor uses defective tools in your care, the doctor could be responsible. In many cases, the medical device manufacturer could also be liable for putting a defective product on the market. Many people face injuries from defective pelvic mesh, defective joint replacements, defective pacemakers and defibrillators, and more. Talk to our Maryland medical malpractice attorney about whom to sue and how your case should proceed.
Emergency Room Errors
In the Emergency Department of any hospital, there are often chaotic moments where nurses and hospital staff work to triage patients by severity and get help to those who need it most before those who can wait. There is also a level of urgency that often means mistakes are made. If at any point the care you receive dips below the expected quality or you are not treated when you need to be, you could be entitled to sue the hospital for its mistakes.
Slip-ups and mistakes in the operating room can leave patients with long-term effects and consequences that could alter their lives. Nicking an artery could turn a routine procedure into an emergency; nicking a nerve could mean the patient loses feeling and control of a body part. Other surgical errors are more severe, such as performing the wrong procedure on the wrong patient.
Prescription Medication Errors
When your doctor prescribes you medication, they should take care to make sure that the side effects are reasonable for you, that you are not allergic to the drug, that the drug does not interfere with other medication you take, and that you are informed of the side effects. Mistakes and errors in prescribing medication can often constitute medical malpractice.
Failure to Properly Treat Conditions
If your doctor’s care does not meet the “standard of care” that they should provide, then you could be entitled to sue for malpractice. The doctor’s care does not need to be the best care ever or reach some unattainable standard of perfection, but you have an expectation that the care will at least be helpful and that it will conform to standard medical practices to help with your condition. Anything less could constitute malpractice.
Post-Surgical Infections and Hospital-Acquired Infections
Infections at a hospital are quite common, but that does not always mean that they should be allowed. Many doctors and medical professionals have a standard practice of prescribing prophylactic antibiotics after surgery to prevent infection. Hospital rooms should also be clean, dressings and bandages should be changed, and surgical sites and wounds should be cleaned, all to prevent infection. Mistakes leading to infection could constitute negligence.
When an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist puts you under for a procedure, you should not feel the procedure, and you certainly should not wake up during the procedure. You should also be able to wake back up after the procedure. Any mistakes leading to permanent numbness, coma, overdose, feeling during a procedure, or alertness during a procedure could cause severe consequences.
Failure to Inform Patients of Risks
Patients must give informed consent before undergoing any procedure. If they do not understand the risks of the procedure they are about to undergo and they do not consent specifically to facing those risks, then their consent could be invalid. If the doctor or other medical professional does not have consent to perform a procedure, the procedure is no better than battery or assault. Talk to a doctor about what information you were provided before undergoing treatment for help understanding whether it was sufficient or not.
Medical Record Errors
When doctors and hospital workers mix up records or fail to properly record information on your chart or medical records, mistakes can happen that put patients at serious risk. Nurses could administer medication to the wrong patients if there is a chart mix-up. They could even end up taking the wrong patient for a procedure or testing if they do not properly identify the correct patient. Further, failing to chart medication or procedures could mean that the patient ends up taking double the dosage of a medication or undergoes the same testing or treatment twice. These kinds of mistakes are not necessarily dangerous in all cases, but they could at least lead to expensive double-billing and wasted time.
Any of these can lead to serious physical and emotional complications for the patient. When you’re facing significant medical procedures or treatments, you’re especially vulnerable. When, during those procedures or treatments, you become the victim of medical malpractice, it can lead to devastating consequences.
Proving Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland
To prove you have a valid medical malpractice case in Maryland, your claim must meet four distinct requirements:
- You were owed a duty of care by a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare provider.
- The healthcare professional breached this duty of care owed to you.
- The healthcare professional’s breach directly caused you physical, emotional, and/or mental harm.
- As a result, you suffered a measurable injury that required verifiable medical treatment and resulted in expenses.
Who Can You Sue in a Medical Malpractice Suit in Maryland?
Victims of medical malpractice in Maryland can sue any type of healthcare professional that caused injury or death to their patient by failing to provide the care and skill that is expected – this can include doctors, nurses, hospitals, and more.
- Aids or Assistants
- Nursing Homes
- Healthcare Companies
- And more!
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Maryland
Before bringing a medical malpractice claim against a medical provider in Maryland, there is a formal process that needs to be followed. Under the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Statute, malpractice attorneys in Maryland must first submit their claim to the Director of the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office.
In Maryland—like other states—a formal process must be followed before bringing a claim against a health care provider, and this includes participating in a mandatory arbitration process before formally filing in court. This means that you must first submit your claim to the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office with a certificate of merit (verifying the veracity of your claim) by a qualified medical expert (as referenced above). This process verifies that the health care provider you’re suing breached accepted healthcare standards and that this breach caused you injury, pain, and suffering. Our attorneys can guide you through every step of this process to protect your rights.
Medical malpractice claims are legally complicated. One of the most difficult barriers to overcome in any medical malpractice case is that every patient accepts some degree of risk in receiving medical treatment. While medical science continues to make incredible advancements, human error can never be eradicated. As a patient, you accept risk, but if a healthcare provider departs from the established standards of care while treating you, you can hold that medical professional accountable in a medical malpractice claim.
Your medical malpractice lawyer then has 90 days to submit a certificate of merit by a qualified medical expert, as described below. This process verifies that the healthcare provider you’re suing breached accepted standard of care and that this violation caused injury, death, or pain & suffering.
Certificate Of Merit By A Qualified Medical Expert
To substantiate your medical malpractice claim, an expert witness generally must testify that the act constituted malpractice. Under Maryland law, expert witnesses for a medical malpractice claim must have:
- Clinical experience in the medical subject of your malpractice claim
- Provided medical consultation related to that clinical experience
- Taught in the medical field in which the defendant specializes, in a related medical field, or in the field in which the defendant treated you as a patient within 5 years of the alleged malpractice
In some cases, the expert witness must be board certified in the medical area of relevance. A law firm that regularly handles medical malpractice cases will have access to knowledgeable and qualified experts who can help prove your claim.
The Role Of Informed Consent Forms In A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
One of the most difficult barriers to overcome in any medical malpractice case is that every patient accepts some degree of risk in receiving medical treatment.
Before medical procedures, a patient will typically be required to sign an informed consent document. This document is to state that the doctor or medical provider has discussed the risks of a given procedure and the patient has understands the risk associated.
Even if you signed one of these documents, it is still possible to sue a medical provider, if they did not perform their duties in adherence to the acceptable standard of care for the procedure.
Just because a medical procedure is not successful does not automatically make it eligible for a medical malpractice claim. An experienced Maryland medical malpractice law firm will be able to help you determine the validity of your medical malpractice claim.
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Claims in Maryland
When it comes to medical malpractice claims, patients have a certain amount of time to file their malpractice lawsuit before it becomes invalid in a Maryland court of law.
To file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state of Maryland, a patient has either:
- 5 years from the date the malpractice or injury occurred; or
- 3 years from the date the malpractice injury or error was discovered.
There are also other time limitations and considerations that may affect whether your medical malpractice claim is valid in Maryland. These extra limitations and details can be complex and based upon a number of factors. A personal injury lawyer with experience in medical malpractice law will be able to help you determine whether it is too late to bring a malpractice case to court.
Discuss Your Options With a Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or someone you care about has been injured by medical malpractice, you know just how harrowing that can be. You sought medical care to restore your health and ended up enduring greater injury. The impact of medical malpractice can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating—and you deserve just compensation.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we have the experience, skill, and dedication to pursue your medical malpractice claims with focused precision. Our knowledgeable Maryland medical malpractice attorneys are here to help. Your health and your rights matter, and we’ll fight to guide your claim toward its best possible outcome.
If you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice, please don’t hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm online or call us at (410) 694-7291 for a consultation today.