July 17, 2014
The California Medical Association (CMA), together with other amici, has filed a brief with the California Supreme Court, urging reversal of an appellate court opinion that thwarts the long-standing definition of "professional negligence" in California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). The ruling, if allowed to stand as precedent for future cases, could be misused to undermine the goals of MICRA and adversely affect the entirety of the health care system and safety net in California.
In this case, Flores vs. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, a hospital inpatient sued for injuries she allegedly sustained from a fall when her hospital bed rail collapsed. The appeals court ruled that the negligence did not occur in the rendering of professional services and as such was subject to the two-year statute of limitations for ordinary negligence rather than the one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence.
CMA’s brief points out that under the long-standing definitions in MICRA, professional negligence includes any act or omission by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services for which the provider is licensed. Despite this clear definition and the fact that the provision and maintenance of safe hospital beds is a service for which hospitals are licensed, the Court of Appeal’s opinion failed to even address the pertinent licensing laws and regulations.
CMA's brief argues that the rule plaintiff proposes – that MICRA should be limited to conduct requiring specialized medical skills – is contrary to statutory intent as evidenced by the statutory language, longstanding decisional authority, and legislative history.
MICRA, California’s landmark professional liability reforms, have for nearly 40 years fairly compensated injured parties while protecting access to care for Californians. For more information on MICRA, visit the MICRA resource center.
Contact: CMA's legal information line, (800) 786-4262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.