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What is the “Standard of Medical Care” in Maryland?

Getting injured for any reason is not a pleasant experience. While all injuries due to someone else’s negligence are frustrating to deal with, both from a physical recovery standpoint and from a legal perspective, injuries that happen because a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional was negligent have a particular sting. We trust medical professionals with our health and well-being, so it can be shocking, upsetting, and distressing when you get injured because one of them messed up. Fortunately, you can sue them and recover financial compensation as damages if you can prove in court that they did not live up to the expected standard of medical care required of Maryland doctors.

In Maryland, the standard of care that medical professionals must meet is that they must conduct themselves in the way that a reasonable medical professional with similar training and medical experience would. While that may sound simple, what meets and what does not meet the standard can be complicated to determine and will often form a central point of any medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you need assistance with medical malpractice-related matters, call our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 and get a free case review.

The Standard of Medical Care in Maryland: Explained

To be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland, you have to prove that a medical professional who treated you was negligent. To win your case, you need to establish that the medical professional did not uphold the standard of care. Under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-2A-02, the actions of the defendant medical must be proven to have deviated from the expected professional standard of care for someone in their position to constitute negligence.

Naturally, you may be wondering what the rules or guidelines are for reasonable medical standards of care. Unfortunately, the answer is that there is no written legal guideline for this standard. It is left to be determined by medical practitioners themselves. There are positives and negatives to this system. The largest downside is that there is no law, rule, or regulation that you can point to that shows a doctor or other medical practitioner was negligent. Therefore, parties on both sides of the case can argue that they are in the right, and it very well may come down to who has the more convincing and compelling argument. The main benefit of this system is that the medical professionals themselves set the standard of care, and the law does not hold doctors and other healthcare providers to absurd standards or require them to do things that are impossible or impractical.

The “Battle of Experts” in Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Since there is no statute, rule, regulation, or other legislation directly applicable to your case that states what the medical standard of care is in Maryland, you and our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers will have to argue in court what that medical standard is and convince the judge and jury that the defendant has violated that standard. The primary way that this is done in medical malpractice lawsuits is through expert witnesses.

These witnesses testify as to what the standard of medical care is in the medical malpractice lawsuit at hand. If the jury is convinced that the defendant did not live up to the expected standard of medical care, you will be successful in your lawsuit.

Of course, you will not be the only side of the lawsuit employing experts. The defense attorney will also get medical experts to testify as to the conduct of their client. Naturally, the adverse expert will argue that the defendant’s conduct was within acceptable bounds for a reasonable standard of medical care.

This back-and-forth between medical professionals on both sides of the case is often referred to as a “battle of experts” because both are trying to convince the court of their point of view. The success or failure of an expert witness on the stand can have a tremendous impact on medical malpractice lawsuits, so an important job for our lawyers will be getting a good witness to advocate for your case as well as disproving the assertions of any experts used by opposing counsel.

Requirements for Expert Medical Witnesses in Maryland

There are certain qualifications set out by law for being an expert medical witness in Maryland. These qualifications are detailed under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii). We’ll break down what some of these qualifications mean in this section below.

Clinical Experience Requirements

Medical professionals who testify as to the expected standard of care in a medical malpractice case need to have practical experience in the field. This usually means that the expert needs to be currently practicing as a doctor and have some “hands-on” experience in the relevant medical field. There are some circumstances where a retired medical professional can be an expert, but they still need to have been practicing medicine in the relevant field within five years of the plaintiff’s injuries taking place. For example, a medical academic who has lots of subject-matter knowledge but has never worked in the field likely would not be allowed to testify as an expert. Additionally, this expert cannot spend more than 25% of their time being an expert witness. So if the medical professional is an expert witness by trade, they cannot testify because they do not have enough practical experience.

Related Specialty

Any medical experts involved in the case must also have expertise and knowledge that relates to the medical practice area in question. They cannot merely be doctors who are trained in different practice areas. For example, if a medical malpractice lawsuit is about brain surgery, the medical expert for the standard of medical care a brain surgeon should exercise cannot be an eye doctor, dentist, or heart surgeon.

Speak with Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’s Clinton medical malpractice lawyers at the number (410) 694-7291 for a free case review.