Not a Medical Injury? Think Again!

Plaintiffs look for opportunities to bypass the requirements and limitations designed to protect health care providers.

For example, the Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (“the Act”) affords essential protections to physicians and other health care providers being sued in Maryland – but only if the plaintiff’s injury qualifies as a “medical injury,” defined as “an injury arising or resulting from the rendering or failure to render health care.” Determining whether an injury meets this definition is not always straightforward, giving plaintiffs the chance to bypass the Act and its protections.

In Davis v. Frostburg Facility Operations, LLC, the Court of Appeals clarified the meaning of “medical injury.” The Davis plaintiff alleged a mechanical lift in a nursing home malfunctioned and dropped her to the floor. She filed her Complaint directly in Circuit Court, bypassing the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“HCADRO”) and its requirements (a medical certificate, for example), claiming she did not suffer a “medical injury.” The nursing home defendant moved to dismiss, arguing the plaintiff alleged a medical injury and therefore needed to first file her claim in the HCADRO, with the required certificate. The appellate court agreed, finding the injury occurred when the nurse was acting within the scope of her professional judgment in the operation of the lift, and this constituted a medical injury. The Court dismissed the case, and the plaintiff was directed to re-file in HCADRO!

Bottom Line: Although not all injuries in a health care setting constitute a medical injury, if the injury occurs while the health care provider was using professional skill or judgment, the injury is a medical injury and the Act (and its protections) will apply.

If you have any questions about what constitutes a medical injury, please contact us. We are here to help!

Michelle Dian

Michelle Dian

Michelle L. Dian is a trial attorney and associate at Waranch & Brown. Since joining the Firm in 2014, Ms. Dian has gained considerable experience defending medical malpractice cases, as well as representing physicians and other health care providers in professional licensing and guardianship matters. She has successfully tried cases in the District and Circuit Courts of Maryland.
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