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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

I look at every medical malpractice case that gets filed in Maryland.  It is incredible to me how many lawyers wait until the last minute to file a lawsuit.  In Dunham v. University of Maryland Medical Center, a bedsore case decided a few weeks ago by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, underscores the hot water you can get in when you wait until just before the statute of limitations to bring your claim.

Facts of Dunham

last minute file malpracticePlaintiff originally sued his health care providers for medical malpractice based on failure to prevent and treat pressure sores. The case was initially filed in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“HCADRO”) then transferred to Circuit Court. All medical malpractice actions in Maryland must be supported by an expert certificate that complies with certain conditions. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-2A-04(b) (2013 Repl. Vol.). If the expert certificate does not satisfy the requirements, the case must be dismissed unless the plaintiff obtains one of the statutory time extensions.

As I have said before, a jury trial is about assigning blame.  The three suspects are the plaintiff, defendant, or “it happens.”  Defense lawyers’ preference is being able to blame the plaintiff.

In medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff often makes choices that put them in the spot of needing treatment or surgery.

The most classic case is a lung cancer misdiagnosis case where the plaintiff smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.  Yes, the guy got cancer because he smoked.  But that does not relieve the doctor of the obligation to see what is there to be seen and uncover his lung cancer if there are signs and symptoms that are there to have been seen.  In Barbosa v. Osbourne, the Maryland Court of Appeals took a more nuanced look at when contributory negligence can be applied to medical negligence cases.

Last week in Lamalfa v. Hearn, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that medical records could be admitted over hearsay objections when the records are relied on by an expert witness and the records satisfy 4 conditions of Maryland Rule 5-703(b).

Like most states, Maryland has a statutory business records exception to the hearsay rule.   The thinking is that businesses — most businesses, anyway — keep reliable records which makes them more trustworthy than other forms of hearsay.  So admitting hospital records into evidence is a common practice in malpractice and other injury and wrongful death cases.

Facts of Lamalfa

Jury Verdict Research has some interesting statistics on the value of different types of medical malpractice.

Malpractice cases are among the toughest to pick. We have taken great pride in getting verdicts and settlements in malpractice cases that other lawyers have summarily turned down. It really makes you feel super smart when that happens. But I know we have turned down many seven-figure malpractice cases in the last 10 years. Everyone approaches these cases from various angles and sometimes one malpractice attorney sees what another attorneyaverage injury verdicts does not.

What These Malpractice Statistics Show?

dismissed defendants medical malpracticeMore often than not, a jury trial in a wrongful death or severe injury case is about assigning blame.  Jurors want someone to blame for the harm that was caused.  Usually, this is either the plaintiff or the defendant.  In medical malpractice cases, jurors may also point to bad luck as the cause.

For defense lawyers, one of the best targets for responsibility is an empty chair, either a dismissed or unnamed defendant.  This is a more substantive target than mere bad luck and it allows the jury to meet its perceived obligation of assigning clear responsibility.  It is also just helpful to point the blame to someone who is not in the room to defend themselves.  In Copsey v. Park, the Maryland high court addressed the question of whether the defendant could point to the empty chair of doctors who had already settled before trial.

Facts of Copsey

The Maryland Court of Appeals granted cert in five cases yesterday.  One of the cases, Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, is of interest to Maryland medical malpractice lawyers because it addresses the question of what constitutes an allegation of medical malpractice that invokes the Maryland Health Claims Act.

Facts

Davis is a nursing home type case.  According to the Complaint, the Plaintiff was admitted to Frostburg Village, a nursing rehabilitation center in Allegany County,  following back surgery. Two days later, Plaintiff’s mattress came loose from her bed and “slid off the bed frame, causing Ms. Davis to fall to the floor.”  The facility used a mechanical lift to put the woman back in bed because Frostburg is a no lift facility.  The nurse allegedly used the lift improperly — releasing the net holding the patient too soon — and dropped her on the floor.

Last week, in Henneberry v. Pharoan, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals looked at whether there can be a breach of contract lawsuit that runs concurrently with a medical malpractice claim.  The case clarifies Maryland law on when a breach of contract claim might jibe with a medical malpractice claim.

The Facts

The gist of the plaintiff’s complaint is that the doctor failed to completely resect the entire appendix, which necessitated another surgery.  While undoubtedly a traumatic event for the plaintiff, this is not a serious case by medical malpractice standards.  We have been making it a point to follow every malpractice case that gets filed in Maryland. This is the bottom 10% of medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland regarding the severity of injury (of non-dental malpractice claims).

Sepsis is a silent killer that should be diagnosed and treated with the same urgency as a heart attack.  But it is not treated with urgency, making it is the one reason why so many medical malpractice lawsuits inwrongful death sepsis misdiagnosis Maryland involve either missed sepsis diagnosis or a failure to adequately treat this infection. Sepsis is a catastrophic health problem responsible for over 250,000 deaths per year in this country.  There are over 20,000 cases of sepsis in Maryland hospitals every year. Do you think Donald Trump’s wall is too expensive?  We spend more $20 billion dollars on the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.  It is the most expensive condition treated in hospitals and a lot of that cost is care rendered after a doctor makes a mistake. Continue reading

Medical malpractice cases involving a stroke can be a challenge.  Stroke cases are difficult to prove. Can they be a case?  Yes.

This post is for lawyers who are getting stroke misdiagnosis cases but do not know whether the claim is viable.

There are common threads that run through the most successful stroke misdiagnosis/failure to treat cases.   Cases that result in a settlement or a jury verdict for the plaintiff are usually one of these two breeds: Failing to prevent a stroke and failing to treat a stroke once it has occurred.

Continue reading

Here is an interesting look at the first 20 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Maryland in 2016 with a brief summary of plaintiff’s allegations in the case.   You can get all malpractice lawsuits filed in Maryland in 2017 up until April on our website.

  1. Hall v. Genesis Healthcare, LLC (filed on January 4, 2016): This is a bedsore case in Prince George’s County. Genesis Healthcare fails to take the proper precautions to prevent bedsores from developing on the woman’s body. Woman dies, and her two surviving sons bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
  2. Stanford v. United States – (January 5, 2016): This is a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Biopsy performed with an inadequate specimen. A better specimen would have revealed Stage I cancer that is usually curable by surgery. Stage III cancer discovered three years later. Prognosis is death within five years.maryland medical malpractice lawsuits
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