Advocacy Update

Feb. 14, 2020: Judicial Advocacy Update


If a Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision isn't overturned, it will be more burdensome and more expensive for the state's physicians to defend themselves against medical negligence claims if they want to present potential alternative reasons for a plaintiff's injuries.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

The court created a higher standard for defendants by ruling that physicians who want to present the idea that other physicians not named in the lawsuit could have been responsible for the injury at issue must meet certain evidentiary standards to establish liability against those physicians. Those would include breach of a standard of care, causation and expert testimony.

It's a ruling that needs to be reversed because "a physician must be able to point to evidence at trial of potential alternative causes to an injury …without engaging in the burden and expense of mini-trials with respect to each potential alternative cause," the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies and Maryland State Medical Society (MedChi) tell the Court of Appeals of Maryland in an amicus brief they jointly filed in the case that those judges are now considering, American Radiology Service LLC et al. v. Martin Reiss.

"The goal of Maryland's civil justice system in these cases is to subject the physicians at trial to liability only when they have wrongfully caused the plaintiff's injuries. Here, only two of the potential five physician defendants were at trial. For the trial to be fair, these physicians must be able to present the jury with a full-throated defense that includes other explanations for the alleged misdiagnosis," the brief states.

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