Maryland Court of Appeals Holds No Recency Requirement for Teaching Medicine Exception for Qualifying Attesting Experts Under the Healthcare Malpractice Claims Act
March 23, 2023 By Jennifer N. Henriquez
On December 29, 2022, The Appellate Court of Maryland issued an opinion in Jordan v. Elyassi’s Greenbelt Oral & Facial Surgery, P.C., et al., 2022 Md. App. LEXIS 956 (Dec. 29, 2022) holding that in a medical malpractice action, an expert who taught medicine in a related field satisfies an exception to the board certification requirement, pursuant to the Healthcare Malpractice Claims Act (“HCMCA”), regardless of when that teaching experience occurred.
In Maryland, a Plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit must typically file a Certificate of Qualified Expert (“CQE”) to support a malpractice claim in order for the claim to proceed. For a CQE to be valid under the Healthcare Malpractice Claims Act (“HCMCA”), it must be signed by an attesting expert who must meet certain requirements set forth by the HCMCA.
The Court in Jordan interpreted these requirements for experts attesting to a defendant’s compliance with or departure from standards of care when that defendant is board certified in a specialty. Under the statute, an attesting expert “[s]hall have had clinical experience, provided consultation relating to clinical practice, or taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field of health care, or in the field of health care in which the defendant provided care or treatment to the plaintiff, within 5 years of the date of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the cause of action.” The statute also imposes a board certification requirement on the attesting expert when the defendant is board certified in a specialty, however, this requirement does not apply when the attesting expert “taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field of health care.”
In Jordan, the Defendant doctor, a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, had provided treatment to the Plaintiff related to two dental implants. The procedures involved both implant placement and bone grafting that later presented complications for the Plaintiff. Plaintiff filed a complaint supported by a CQE executed by a periodontist who was not board certified in any specialty, but had practiced periodontics for approximately 30 years and taught periodontics for approximately two years in the 1970s as a full-time assistant clinical professor. At the time that expert taught, implants and bone grafting did not yet exist as treatment options, so he had not taught them. The expert had, however, used implants and bone grafting during his practice after the technologies had developed.
The Defendant argued that the five-year recency requirement in the first part of the statute (italicized above) also applied to the exceptions in the second part of the statute that outlines the exception for having “taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field[.]” The Plaintiff, in contrast, argued that no such recency requirement applied, as the teaching medicine exception clause did not contain any recency requirement in the text itself.
The Court ultimately agreed with the statutory interpretation argued by the Plaintiff, holding that an expert who taught medicine in a related field satisfies the exception to the board certification requirement at issue in this case, regardless of when that teaching experience occurred.
 At the November 8, 2022 general election, the voters of Maryland ratified a constitutional amendment changing the name of the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland to the Appellate Court of Maryland. The name change took effect on December 14, 2022.
 The word “Plaintiff” as used in this article refers to Plaintiffs as well as Claimants who file claims in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office.
 Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii)(1)(A) (emphasis added)
 Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-2A-02(c)(2)(ii)(2)(B)