The Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act, codified at § 3-2A-01, et. seq. of the Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code sets forth onerous rules and requirements plaintiffs must comply with before filing suit against a “health care provider” for medical negligence in any state or federal court. Among other requirements, the Act requires that within 180 days after the claim is filed with the Health Claims Dispute Resolution Office–the state administrative body that receives all medical malpractice suits and which serves more like a clearinghouse than an actual arbitration tribunal-the claimant/plaintiff must file a “Certificate of Qualified Expert” wherein an expert, trained in the same or similar field as the defendant/health care provider, must certify there was a breach of care which proximately caused the claimant/plaintiff’s injuries. Once that certificate and an accompanying comprehensive report are filed, the plaintiff (or the defendant) may waive out of the arbitration process and refile the action in any state or federal court where venue and jurisdiction are proper.
Not all medical providers, however, are subject to this mandatory arbitration process in Maryland. The following are “health care providers” subject to mandatory health claims arbitration: hospitals, medical day care centers, hospice care programs, assisted living programs, ambulatory care facilities, physicians, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, registered or licensed practical nurses, dentists, podiatrists, psychologists, licensed certified social workers, and physical therapists. Not included on this list are pharmacists, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, radiology and other specialized technicians, maintenance and support staff at medical institutions, and employees and staff members at a physician or health care providers’ offices. The claimant must also suffera “medical injury” arising from the rendition of health care in order for the claim to be subject to mandatory arbitration. Not all incidents at health care facilities arise from medical treatment or care.
Should you have a claim for medical malpractice, be aware of the strict requirements of the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Act but consult with an attorney before assuming that your claim will be subject to mandatory health claims arbitration. The attorneys at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz are trial lawyers skilled in handling all aspects of medical negligence claims from investigation to trial. Should you have questions or need information about the firm’s services or your personal injury or health care related claim, please contact the firm.