Proposed legislative bills cross-filed in both the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate during the current 2017 Session of the Maryland General Assembly, if passed and signed into law by Maryland’s Republican Governor, would allow Maryland hospitals to establish “patient safety early intervention programs” to provide for the reasonable investigation of an adverse event in order to determine if harm to a patient occurred and if the care provided to the patient deviated from the accepted standard of care.
How A Patient Safety Early Intervention Program Would Work
If a patient safety early intervention program determines that harm occurred to a patient and the care provided deviated from the accepted standard of care, the program must (1) obtain input about the adverse event from the patient or the patient’s family; (2) disclose to the patient and, if appropriate, the patient’s family the results and findings of the investigation; (3) apologize to the patient for the care provided; (4) advise the patient of the patient’s right to legal representation for discussions relating to fair and reasonable compensation; and (5) allow the patient, and if appropriate, the patient’s family, to participate in efforts to identify and implement system improvements to prevent a reoccurrence of the adverse event.
The proposed law defines “adverse event” as an unexpected occurrence that relates to a patient’s medical treatment but is not related to the natural course of a patient’s underlying illness, disease, or condition.
The proposed law provides that any service or support, including financial support, provided to a patient or the patient’s family does not affect the right of the patient or the patient’s family to fair and reasonable compensation for damages under State law. However, any statements made during a discussion held in accordance with a program is inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or an admission against interest in a health care malpractice claim proceeding or in a civil action against a health care provider.
Maryland’s Current Law
Under current Maryland law, in a health care malpractice claim or a civil action against a health care provider, an expression of regret or apology made by or on behalf of the health care provider is inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest. However, an admission of liability or fault that is part of or in addition to an expression of regret or apology is admissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest in such an action.
Under current Maryland law, a hospital or related institution is required to (1) report an unexpected occurrence related to an individual’s medical treatment that results in death or serious disability that is not related to the natural course of the individual’s illness or underlying disease condition and (2) submit the report to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) within five days of the hospital’s or related institution’s knowledge of the occurrence. Additionally, a hospital or related institution must conduct a root cause analysis of the occurrence and submit it to DHMH within 60 days of knowing about the occurrence. Nonetheless, a hospital or related institution may, but need not, report an unexpected occurrence that does not result in death or serious disability.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) as a result of medical malpractice in Maryland, you should promptly find a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case in Maryland, if appropriate.
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