When Must a Washington, D.C. Plaintiff Comply with the District’s Strict Medical Malpractice Requirements?

All Washington, D.C. personal injury cases must follow the procedural court rules set out in the rules of civil procedure. However, Washington, D.C. medical malpractice cases are subject to additional hurdles that, if not correctly followed, may result in the dismissal of a plaintiff’s claim. Thus, plaintiffs bringing any claim that may be construed as a medical malpractice case should take all precautions to ensure they protect their right to recover.

In many medical malpractice cases, by the time a case reaches trial, it is too late for the plaintiff to comply with the strict procedural rules of a medical malpractice claim. Often, defendants argue that the plaintiff’s claim is one of medical malpractice, and that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiff failed to comply with the applicable procedural rules. These plaintiffs are then in the position of explaining why their claim is not one of medical malpractice, and is instead a claim of traditional negligence. A recent case acts as a good illustration of this principle.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was a patient at a clinic. While at the clinic, an employee attempted a venipuncture in the plaintiff’s right arm. Apparently, the employee did not have permission to conduct the procedure, and as a result of the attempted venipuncture, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries.

The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the clinic. In response, the clinic argued that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because it was based on a theory of medical malpractice, and the plaintiff failed to follow the necessary requirements. Specifically, the clinic argued that the plaintiff failed to present a supporting expert affidavit. The trial court agreed with the clinic and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that her claim was not technically one of medical malpractice because it was not based on the conduct of a licensed professional. The court agreed, noting that the employee who performed the venipuncture was a “technician,” and under state law, a technician is not a medical professional.

The court went on to explain that the plaintiff was also excused from the medical malpractice requirements based on the fact that her complaint alleged intentional – rather than negligent – conduct. The court explained that the medical malpractice requirements only apply to claims of “professional negligence,” and not intentional acts. The court explained that, because the plaintiff claimed that the technician attempted the procedure without her permission, the basis of the plaintiff’s complaint was an intentional act. As a result, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed to trial.

Have You Been Injured in the Medical Setting?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in the medical setting, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit. However, it may be wise to take the additional precautions to ensure you comply with the strict procedural requirements of a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice claim. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our team of skilled Washington, D.C. injury lawyers have extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases, as well as claims of traditional negligence. To learn more about how we can help you with your case, call 410-654-3600 today.

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