Death of the Locality Rule in Maryland Malpractice Cases

The strict locality rule requires doctors to apply the standard of care specific to the community in which the medical care was given. This doctrine began after the Civil War where courts were loathe to apply the same standards to country doctors as they would to urban doctors that have access to the latest information.

Whatever may have justified the strict locality rule a hundred and forty years ago, that justification perished even before Al Gore invented the Internet. No lawyer would argue to a jury that medical standards change based on the community where the medical service is delivered. Still, doctors’ medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland have long claimed that the locality rule is codified by the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act. Thankfully, this notion was dispelled last month by a Maryland District Court judge.