On November 21, 2014, the Maryland Appellate Court issued a decision that will extend medical malpractice immunity to situations when a health care provider chooses not to admit a patient involuntarily. As reported by PRWeb.com, the Maryland Appellate Court held that the Maryland General Assembly’s two relevant statues give immunity both when health care providers choose to involuntarily admit and when they choose not to involuntarily admit. This is an important decision and although it is extending medical malpractice immunity, this decision is actually in the best interests of you, the individual.
Why Did the Court Come to This Decision?
The Maryland Appellate Court argued that there is a legislative concern regarding wrongfully admitting individuals against their will, as well as a larger goal of minimizing excessive institutionalization and protecting patients and their rights. In layman’s terms, although there are situations where individuals need professional help and must be admitted to a care facility against their will, the government must structure the laws and statutes to lower the risk of this happening when it is unnecessary. We do not want a society where people are constantly being admitted to mental care facilities involuntarily, and it should only be done in extreme cases.
Currently, the Maryland laws specifically protect health care providers who involuntarily admit patients from being sued for medical malpractice. This is done so that these health care providers will not be afraid to admit these patients and can then give them the treatment that they desperately need. The problem was that the law did not specifically state if immunity was also given to health care providers when they decided not to involuntarily admit patients. This was a serious problem and created a perverse incentive.
When an individual is brought to a hospital to be involuntarily admitted, the hospital should then determine if it is appropriate. In the past, the hospital was legally protected from medical malpractice suits if they involuntarily admitted them, but not legally protected if they decided not to. This encouraged hospitals to admit patients against their will even if it was not completely necessary. This decision extends the medical malpractice immunity to both sides, so now the hospital can make the best decision for the patient and not worry about possible legal actions.
What Does this Decision Mean for Maryland and Is It Good for You?
When first reading this decision, you may think this is bad for your rights because they are extending the immunity of hospitals in Maryland, but that is not the case. After this decision, hospitals will now have less incentive to involuntarily admit patients. Hopefully you will never find yourself in the situation where you are being evaluated for involuntary admittance, but now the hospital can make that decision with your best interests in mind. This decision lowers the risk that you will be involuntarily admitted and will protect your rights and freedom.
In case you have questions regarding medical malpractice in situations of involuntary admittance, please contact Ingerman & Horwitz today. Our attorneys will help determine if immunity was extended in your situation and what course of action is still available to you.