Medical Malpractice in Maryland: Too Often, the Names Don’t Change

I read in the paper today that Dale Adkins III and Emily C. Malarkey, both with Salisbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins in Baltimore, filed a wrongful death medical malpractice case against an OB/GYN in Salisbury.

We also have a case pending against the same doctor. [2013 Update: we got a million dollar verdict in that case.] In April, a jury in Baltimore found this doctor negligent in yet another medical malpractice case.

We have previously reviewed and rejected another claim against this same doctor, not because he was not negligent but because the damages – while significant – were not of the magnitude that would make a medical negligence lawsuit, frankly because of the cost involved of putting these suits together.

I’m not naming the doctor because our goal with this blog is not to embarrass people or invade their privacy. I do not name plaintiffs or defendants unless they are a company or hospital. And I’m told this doctor appears to be a decent guy. But this doctor underscores that high insurance rates for doctors are not from frivolous lawsuits. Instead, the problem is that 3% of doctors in Maryland are responsible for half the med mal payouts (data from earlier this decade but I suspect it is still holding true). If these doctors are [fill in your own phrase for politely asked them to stop treating patients], malpractice premiums in Maryland would plummet.

If a lawyer is not effective in trial, there are lots of other productive things she can do to make a contribution in the field of law. Doctors who shouldn’t be treating patients do not need to get a job a Burger King. There are invaluable things that many doctors do who don’t treat patients. We need a plan to transition a small minority of doctors into hopefully a related line of work where they can be productive but where they cannot harm patients.

It is trite but it true: anyone can make a mistake. But how many is too many?

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