At Clark and Steinhorn, we get a lot of calls and inquiries about possible Maryland medical malpractice or hospital negligence claims. Allan and I patiently wade through the facts, and almost invariably review medical records, sometimes hundreds or thousands of pages long.
Even after such a review, the process of determining whether to move forward with a claim and/or lawsuit is not complete. The final and absolutely necessary step is to have a doctor or healthcare provider expert review, to determine the merits of any given case.
This of course is logical because we are lawyers not physicians. It is also required in order to pursue a medical negligence claim. Healthcare related malpractice claims follow a unique process commencing at the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office and then through the court system.
A claim must be filed in the M.H.C.A. office first and within 90 days of filing, a certificate of meritorious claim signed by an appropriate physician must be submitted. While there are more specific requirements of this certificate, the fundamentals are that this a "certifying expert" spends less than 20% of their professional time in serving as an expert witness in personal injury cases, that they be licensed in and that they hold an opinion to a particularized standard, "a reasonable degree of medical probabilty" that the individuals or entities sued, "breached the standard of care" and brought about injury to the patient.
It is easy to see why evaluating medical malpractice cases is a tricky business and requires the input of attorneys experienced in this area of the law.