As we cautioned in a prior Think Piece, it is no longer unusual to see Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) named individually in medical malpractice lawsuits. When that happens, Plaintiffs attempt to muddy the waters as to which non-economic “cap” applies in medical malpractice cases – the (lower) medical malpractice cap, or the (higher) general tort cap. Today we’re going to show you how we try to stay clear of the muck and mire.
The trouble arises from the Health Claims Arbitration Statute (the “Act”), in which neither NPs nor PAs are defined specifically as “health care providers.” Since the Act creates the medical malpractice cap, Plaintiffs argue that this lower cap does not apply in cases involving midlevel providers like NPs and PAs. We fight that interpretation.
We argue the medical malpractice cap applies to all health care providers in a medical malpractice case, including midlevel providers like NPs and PAs. Our position is the plain language of the Act provides the medical malpractice cap applies to an award under the Act. This provision implies the medical malpractice cap is applicable to all claims filed under the Act, regardless of whether a specific provider is defined as a “health care provider.” As of now, however, this is an open question not yet resolved by Maryland courts.
We are looking for the right case to bring this to the appellate court level. For now, we continue to argue (mostly with success) that the medical malpractice cap applies to all health care providers. We try to see through the mud.
If we can assist with this, or any other matter, please contact us.