The Maryland Court of Appeals issued an opinion in TransCare v. Murray last week.
This medical malpractice involves the transportation of the minor Plaintiff by helicopter from the Emergency Department at Easton Memorial Hospital in Talbot County, Maryland to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore City.
The first battle in this case, the battle for venue. Plaintiff filed suit in Baltimore. Plaintiff argued that TransCare Maryland has its resident agent in Baltimore City, (2) the patient's medical records show that the doctors at Easton called the University of Maryland ExpressCare, which is located in UMMS in Baltimore City in order to effectuate a transfer from Easton to Baltimore City, and (3) air transport went to the University of Maryland to pick up a team of health care providers and then transported those people to Easton.
Plaintiff's lawyers also make another argument that we have tried to make as well (and also failed). If you need air transport during a serious medical emergency, this affects everyone in Maryland, including Baltimore City residents, in an equal manner.
Judge Sylvester S. Cox, sitting as Motions Judge in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, found that while venue was proper in Baltimore City, Talbot County was the more appropriate venue. Tough blow. Let's face it, almost any personal injury case has greater value in Baltimore City than it does in Talbot County.
Let's get to the facts. Plaintiff had trouble breathing due to congestion and was rushed to Eastern Memorial where he was fitted with an endotracheal breathing tube. However, because the hospital was not equipped to handle intubated children, the hospital arranged for a helicopter to transport the plaintiff to a pediatric intensive care unit at another medical center. On board the chopper was an employee of the defendant, a commercial ambulance company under contract to provide ground ambulance services between the medical center and area hospitals. Shortly after take-off, the plaintiff’s endotracheal tube became dislodged, which blocked his airway and led to a drop in his heart rate and oxygen blood level. Members of the flight team scrambled to find an air mask, but could not locate it. The helicopter then made an emergency landing, where the crew located the mask and reintubated the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s cardiac activity returned to normal and the helicopter completed its trip to the medical center.
The plaintiff filed suit alleging medical malpractice. According to the plaintiff, the employee of the defendant failed to provide the requisite standard of care, and that the defendant was liable under respondeat superior. The plaintiff also claimed that he was left blind, deaf, and mentally disabled as a result of hypoxic brain injury from the incident. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing immunity arising from the Good Samaritan Act and the Fire and Rescue Act. Judge Sidney S. Campen denied the motion but then reversed himself and granted defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of their Motion for Summary Judgment. How often does that happen? Plaintiff appealed and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed, ignoring the venue issue - a dead loser on appeal anyway - but finding that defendants could not use the Good Samaritan Act as a shield. Defendants than appealed to the Maryland high court.
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