Imagine you’re an office-based physician with privileges to practice at a hospital where you do not take call. A patient you treated in the past presents to the Emergency Department at that hospital. You are asked to come in but decline, as the on-call physician has already agreed to consult.
Now imagine you are sued in relation to care provided during that visit. Can an office-based physician who is not on call be liable to a hospitalized patient when they were not involved in the medical care? Maryland case law does not definitively answer this question, but we argue: “no!”
We recently represented a physician in this situation. Plaintiffs argued the physician was negligent for failing to come to the hospital to evaluate the patient personally. We filed a motion arguing the physician had no legal duty to assist in the hospital care of his patient since he was not on call and the on-call physician had been contacted. The Court agreed and granted our motion, resulting in his dismissal.
Bottom Line: This was a good result for our physician who was not on call at that hospital. While this is an open question not yet completely resolved by Maryland appellate courts, one may prevail by arguing there is no legal duty when a physician is not on call.
If you have questions about a physician’s duty to a patient, please contact us. We are always here to help.