Maryland Law Requires Medical Malpractice Plaintiff to File the Claim With the State Before Filing Suit – Haskins v. Washington Adventist Hospital, Inc.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted a defendant hospital’s motion to dismiss a medical malpractice lawsuit, Haskins v. Washington Adventist Hospital, Inc. A woman filed suit as administrator of her late husband’s estate, alleging that inadequate care by hospital personnel caused his death. The court held that she did not comply with the Maryland Health Care Claims Act (MHCCA), which requires plaintiffs to file a claim with a state agency as a condition of filing a lawsuit. It dismissed the suit without prejudice, meaning she is permitted to re-file.

The decedent, Virginia resident Ernest Haskins, checked in to Washington Adventist Hospital (the “Hospital”) in Takoma Park, Maryland on April 9, 2010. He was there to receive treatment, including surgery, for a spinal fracture and metastatic multiple myeoloma cancer of the spine. He allegedly contracted a MRSA infection (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) due to the nursing staff’s failure to follow standard of care procedures. MRSA is a bacterial infection that is resistant to common antibiotic treatments. It is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact. Because of the infection and its risk of contagion, Haskins was initially unable to find a nursing home willing to accept him.

Haskins also suffered stage II sacral decubitus ulcers, commonly known as bedsores, during his stay at the Hospital, causing him severe pain and discomfort. After several months in the Hospital, a nursing home in Richmond, Virginia agreed to admit Haskins. A third-party ambulance transferred him there, a five-hour trip over 129 miles. The Hospital allegedly failed to provide the ambulance crew with a full account of the severity of Haskins’ condition, including the bedsores. Haskins’ bedsores therefore went untreated until he arrived in Richmond. He required surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital on July 2, and he died shortly afterwards.

The Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene cited the Hospital for multiple deficiencies related to Haskins’ treatment. These included the lack of a wound care specialist in residence, failure to treat or document the bedsores properly, and failure to note the bedsores on the “transfer summary” provided to the ambulance crew.

Haskins’ widow sued the Hospital in a Virginia federal district court on behalf of his estate, asserting seven counts of medical malpractice. The court transferred the case to the District of Maryland, finding that Virginia lacked personal jurisdiction over the Hospital. The Hospital filed a motion to dismiss for failure to file notice with the state under the MHCCA, which requires a plaintiff to file a claim first with the state’s Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO).

The plaintiff argued that the MHCCA only applies to state claims, but the court disagreed. It held that the law applies to all medical malpractice claims filed in Maryland. The court did not address the fact that the plaintiff first filed suit in Virginia, leaving open the question of how the suit’s transfer to Virginia affected the timetable of filing a claim with HCADRO.

The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people in Maryland injured due to the negligence or malpractice of medical professionals. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to Lack of Qualified Expert, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 1, 2012
Lawsuit Alleges Prison Nurse Denied Emergency Medical Care to Inmate, Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 7, 2012
Medical Malpractice: A Surgeon’s Perspective, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 6, 2012

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