Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner, P.A. Menu Menu Menu Contact

Malpractice action settled for teen's wisdom teeth death

When an unexpected loss of a loved one occurs, it can be devastating for Maryland residents. This is especially true when the death involves a child, which can leave parents searching for answers. In these cases, parents may have a cause of action for wrongful death of the child.

Recently, for example, the parents of a 17-year-old girl who died after a routine wisdom teeth surgery filed suit against the anesthesiologist, surgeon and hospital involved in the procedure. The teen had suffered brain injury during the surgery, causing her to go into a coma and die 10 days later. The parents' action claimed the medical professionals were negligent, which caused the loss of oxygen to the teen's brain.

After the case had been filed, the medical professionals argued the teen may have had a preexisting condition leading to the death. The defense requested that the teen's medical records be made public in court, which was contested by the parents.

While the case has since settled, the medical records issue arises often in wrongful death actions. Specifically, parties may argue whether the doctor-patient privilege protects the privacy of a person's medical records after the person has died.


Generally, the privilege must be waived by the patient. Accordingly, if it is not waived, the physician cannot disclose the confidential information contained in the records. Thus, the death of the patient does not automatically waive the privilege. State laws vary however, as some provide that a personal representative or next of kin may waive the privilege in place of the patient.

Moreover, the privilege is typically waived when a patient commences an action for negligence or personal injury based on medical treatment. Thus, in a wrongful death suit brought by the deceased person's loved ones, the privilege may be waived. Ultimately, the issue is one of many that may arise in the context of a wrongful death action, and which requires vigorous representation in order to argue the patient's side effectively.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Malpractice claim in teen's wisdom teeth death settled out of court," Kevin Rector, April 3, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

300 East Lombard Street
Suite 1100
Baltimore, MD 21202-3245

Toll Free: 877-736-1845
Phone: 410-497-8433
Fax: 410-783-4771
Baltimore Law Office Map

2905-A Old Largo Road
P.O. Box 1658
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

Toll Free: 877-736-1845
Phone: 410-497-8433
Fax: 301-627-5911
Get Directions

100 East Main Street, Suite 102
Salisbury, MD 21801

Phone: 410-543-5398
Fax: 410-783-4771
Get Directions

21 East Church Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Phone: 301-662-1043
Fax: 410-783-4771
Get Directions