If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, it is important that you hire an experienced and competent lawyer. With so many lawyers in Maryland advertising medical malpractice, it can be hard to determine whether you have hired the right one. Hiring a lawyer that focuses his or her practice in medical negligence cases, and has the requisite experience, can mean the difference between winning and losing your medical malpractice case. Certificates of Qualified Experts (CQE) and Expert Reports, which are required in almost every medical malpractice case in Maryland*, are one area where choosing the right attorney truly matters.
Why the CQE and Expert Report Matters
There is a multi-step process involved before a medical malpractice case can be filed in a Maryland Court. Before filing a claim for medical malpractice in a Maryland Court, the claim must first be filed with the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office, along with a CQE and Expert Report. Then, and only then, can the claim be filed in a Maryland Court.
After meeting with a client and obtaining all of the relevant medical records, the lawyer must find an expert witness to author a CQE and Expert Report that states that the treating healthcare professional departed from the applicable the standard of care, and that such a departure was the proximate cause of the patient’s injuries. See CJP §§ 3-2A-03(c)(1) and § 3-2A(b)(1)(i). The expert must also have the relevant clinical experience, be board certified in the relevant field of medicine, and cannot devote more than 20% of his or her professional time to working on legal cases. See CJP § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii) and CJP § 3-2-A-04(b)(4).
While the CQE and Report will be largely based on the expert witness’s experience and expertise, the lawyer must supervise the process to ensure that the final product complies with Maryland law.
The Retina Group decision: A Cautionary Tale
The recent decision of the Court of Special Appeals in Retina Group of Washington, P.C. v. Crosetto, 183 A.3d 873 (2018) is a cautionary tale. In that case, the lawyer filed a CQE and Expert Report in the Health Claim Arbitration Office before waiving into Circuit Court, as he was supposed to. The CQE and Expert Report identified one physician, as well as the entire “Retina Group of Washington” as having departed from the standard of care causing his clients’ injury. However, the CQE and Report did not identify every physician involved in the treatment at issue. At trial, the jury found that the sole doctor named in the CQE and Expert Report was not liable, but found that the Retina Group was liable because the other physicians involved in the treatment, who were agents and employees of the Retina Group, were liable.
The Court of Special Appeals overturned the jury’s verdict, finding that there was not a valid CQE and Expert Report against anyone employed by the Retina Group except for the physician specifically named, who the jury found was not liable. Unfortunately, by the time the error had been realized, the 3-year statute of limitations had run and it was too late to file a second CQE and Report against the other physicians.
The Retina Group case underscores why having an experienced, knowledgeable Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Had the CQE and Report mentioned the other physicians involved in the patient’s eye surgery, the favorable verdict would likely have been upheld, and the patient and his family would have been compensated for his injuries.
The lawyers at Cardaro & Peek have been litigating Medical Malpractice cases in Maryland and Washington D.C. for over thirty years, both as Defense and Plaintiff attorneys, and have the knowledge and experience to know which details are important to winning your case.
Contact The Law Offices of Cardaro & Peek, LLC Today
Do you believe that you or your loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or medical neglect? You need to talk to an experienced team of local lawyers today.
The lawyers at Cardaro & Peek, LLC have the experience and resources necessary to investigate and litigate all types of medical claims throughout Maryland and Washington D.C. Cardaro & Peek, LLC has medical personnel on staff and has access to nationally recognized, board-certified physicians and other experts, to assist in the investigation, analysis, and prosecution of all types of medical malpractice claims. If you or a loved one have experienced malpractice, give us a call at 410-752-6166. Please visit our website www.cardarolaw.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn for more information.
*The section of Maryland law which requires filing a Statement of Claim, CQE and Expert Report with the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office apply only to claims against hospitals, hospice care programs, assisted living programs, freestanding ambulatory care facilities, physicians, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, registered or licensed practical nurses, dentists, podiatrists, psychologists, clinical licensed certified social workers, and physical therapists. See Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings (CJP) § 3-2A-01(f)(1).