As a patient, medical care can be a murky experience, and you can only hope it’s clearer to the medical staff treating you.
As unfamiliar people in uniforms dart in and out of rooms, you may feel more vulnerable under medical care than you’ll ever feel in your life. And then, it can take a long time to fully understand whether a medical procedure has helped you or hurt you.
If you decide you’ve been harmed instead of healed, who can you hold accountable and how?
If things go poorly, not everyone involved in your care has committed malpractice.
As a patient, you know medicine is a team sport. A receptionist may hand you off to a nurse practitioner followed by your doctor who sends you to the lab for a blood draw and then you’re off to the pharmacist.
A malpractice lawsuit must prove fault for a specific harm, that specific individuals were negligent in meeting the accepted standard of care, and the harm would not have happened if the standard of care had been met.
Standards of care differ between patients with differing ages, conditions, and medical histories. So, for example, the evidence may focus on currently, normally expected procedures in Prince George’s County or in Maryland.
You don’t have long to think about it
Complications from medical procedures can take decades to appear, but Maryland has strict statutes of limitations for malpractice suits.
You must file a suit within 5 years after the malpractice was committed or within 3 years of your realizing it was committed, whichever is shorter. So, if you know you’ve been injured right away, you have 3 years to file. If you realize after 4 years and 10 months, you have 2 months. There are various exceptions, particularly for young or mentally disabled people.
Once your complaint is filed, you have 90 days to file a qualified expert’s statement that a “departure” from the standard of care caused your injury.
If enough patients have experienced the same complications, a class action suit is conceivable. There would be new questions and new answers regarding statutes of limitations, standards of evidence, and many other issues.