Medical Malpractice Cases in Maryland: What You Must Do Before Filing Suit

In Maryland, to bring a medical malpractice complaint against a doctor, you must get a certificate of merit by a medical doctor that the negligent doctor breached the standard of care and caused injury to the injured plaintiff. The qualifications of the medical doctor depend on the subject of the particular claim.

But this there is no getting around this statute.  The certificate of a qualified expert is a required step in pushing a malpractice case forward.  If it does not follow the certificate requirement, the court will dismiss a circuit court action.

maryland certificate of merit

Certificate of Merit Hurdle in Maryland

Maryland Law

Under Maryland law, the preliminary requirement for a medical doctor who executes a certificate of merit is that: 1) they have clinical experience, 2) provided consultation relating to clinical practice, 3) taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field of health care or in health care in which the defendant provided care or treatment to the plaintiff, within 5 years of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the cause of action. With limited exceptions, the doctor must also be board-certified in the relevant area of medicine.

The certificate of merit in Maryland medical malpractice cases must contain three elements:

1. Where the doctor is licensed to practice;
2. An opinion within a reasonable degree of medical probability that the treating doctor departed from the applicable standard of care in treating the plaintiff and that there was damage from the breach of the standard of care;
3. That the doctor does not devote annually over twenty percent (20%) of his professional activities to activities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims.

The purpose of this requirement from the Maryland legislature is to prevent frivolous medical claims from being filed. Other states have similar rules as Maryland’s requirements and I believe these rules have mostly been effective in keeping out medical mistake claims without merit. Recent studies and a recent book agree with the premise that medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland have known for a long time: over time, it is economically impossible for attorneys to bring frivolous malpractice cases.  Either way, I’ve dealt with the statute my entire career.  I’m fine with it.

Are All Claims Against Healthcare Providers Subject to this Requirement?

There are a lot of fine lines between what is and what is not a medical malpractice claim.  The focus is on the legal theory upon which the claim is based.   Is it a slip and fall a malpractice claim?  Probably not.  But if it at all a close call, err on the side of treating it is a malpractice claim, or you could get your case dismissed altogether.

If you live in the Baltimore Washington area and believe you have been a victim of a doctor’s mistake in Maryland, click here and our lawyers will be happy to discuss your case with you over the phone (800-553-8082), in person, or by free Internet consultation.

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