The Importance of Following the Procedural Requirements of a Maryland Nursing Home Lawsuit

Nursing homes are supposed to provide residents with the assistance necessary to carry out their daily tasks. Many of these tasks are routine, and do not necessarily involve providing medical treatment. However, depending on the nature of a resident’s condition and limitations, nursing homes are responsible for providing basic medical care to residents. If a Maryland nursing home resident requires treatment that a nursing home is unable to offer, the home must arrange for the resident to be treated by another provider.

When a resident is injured or dies while under the care of a Maryland nursing home, the resident or their loved one can pursue a Maryland nursing home neglect case against the facility. However, depending on the specific allegations involved in the complaint, the case may be considered a “medical malpractice” case. This is important because Maryland law requires specific additional procedures to be followed in Maryland medical malpractice cases. A recent state appellate opinion illustrates how a plaintiff’s failure to comply with the exacting requirements precisely can result in their case being dismissed.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff’s mother was a resident in the defendant nursing home. In January 2016, nursing home staff dropped the plaintiffs’ mother as they were transferring her from a bath chair to her bed, causing the woman to suffer a laceration on her leg. She died a few months later.

The resident’s granddaughter filed a medical malpractice complaint against the nursing home. The jurisdiction where this occurred required a medical review panel assess the plaintiff’s complaint for merit. Thus, the resident’s granddaughter sought the formation of a medical review panel.

A little more than a year after the resident’s death, her granddaughter sought to amend the complaint, seeking to add herself as representative of the resident’s estate as well as one of the resident’s sons. The nursing home objected, arguing that an improper party requested the medical review panel. Specifically, the nursing home argued that the resident’s granddaughter was not among the “class of persons entitled to file a survival action” under state law. Essentially, the nursing home was arguing that, because the granddaughter could not recover for the loss of the resident (because there were beneficiaries with a superior claim), she had no authority to request the medical review panel. The panel determined that the facility was negligent; however, it concluded that the facility’s negligence was not the cause of the resident’s death.

Shortly after the panel released its opinion, two of the resident’s sons filed a formal medical malpractice lawsuit against the facility. The facility argued the lawsuit was filed too late. The plaintiffs argued that the period while the review panel was considering the case should not count against them because it was a necessary part of the process.

The court began by noting that medical malpractice cases in the state must be brought within one year. Additionally, the time while a review panel is considering a case is usually not counted towards the one year. However, the court explained that in this situation, the medical review panel was requested by a party who did not have the legal ability to recover for the death of the resident. That being the case, the court held that the time while the medical review panel as considering the case was not excused, and the plaintiffs’ claim was untimely.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of Maryland medical malpractice, or have been injured while in a quasi-medical setting, it is essential that you reach out to a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may need to comply with the additional requirements of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience handling Maryland medical malpractice cases, as well as traditional negligence cases that arise in a quasi-medical setting but do not involve the violation of a professional duty. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

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