Michigan Appellate Court Holds Nurse Practitioner Cannot Testify As To Registered Nurse Standard Of Care

The State of Michigan Court of Appeals (“Michigan Appellate Court”) held in its December 12, 2017 published opinion involving a Michigan birth injury medical malpractice case that a nurse practitioner who spends the majority of her time practicing or teaching pursuant to her specialty certification as a nurse practitioner is not engaged in the same health profession as a registered nurse who practices pursuant to her license as a registered nurse.

Michigan’s Definition Of Registered Professional Nurse (RN)

Michigan Public Health Code (“PHC”) defines a “registered professional nurse” (“RN”) as “an individual who is licensed under this part to engage in the practice of nursing which scope of practice includes the teaching, direction, and supervision of less skilled personnel in the performance of delegated nursing activities.” MCL 333.17201(e). The “practice of nursing” is defined as the systematic application of substantial specialized knowledge and skill, derived from the biological, physical, and behavioral sciences, to the care, treatment, counsel, and health teaching of individuals who are experiencing changes in the normal health processes or who require assistance in the maintenance of health and the prevention or management of illness, injury, or disability. MCL 333.17201(c).

Michigan’s Definition Of Certified Nurse Practitioner (NP)

PHC defines a “certified nurse practitioner” is “an individual who is licensed as a registered professional nurse under part 172 who has been granted a specialty certification as a nurse practitioner by the Michigan board of nursing under section 17210.” MCL 333.2701(c). MCL 333.17210(1) provides: (1) The Michigan board of nursing may grant a specialty certification to a registered professional nurse who has advanced training beyond that required for initial licensure, who has demonstrated competency through examination or other evaluative processes, and who practices in 1 of the following health profession specialty fields: (a) Nurse midwifery. (b) Nurse anesthetist. (c) Nurse practitioner. (d) Subject to subsection (2) [not relevant here], clinical nurse specialist.

Michigan’s Requirements For Medical Malpractice Experts

MCL 600.2169(1) provides, in relevant part: (1) In an action alleging medical malpractice, a person shall not give expert testimony on the appropriate standard of practice or care unless the person is licensed as a health professional in this state or another state and meets the following criteria: * * * (b) Subject to subdivision (c) [which is not relevant here], during the year immediately preceding the date of the occurrence that is the basis for the claim or action, devoted a majority of his or her professional time to either or both of the following: (i) The active clinical practice of the same health profession in which the party against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered is licensed and, if that party is a specialist, the active clinical practice of that specialty. (ii) The instruction of students in an accredited health professional school or accredited residency or clinical research program in the same health profession in which the party against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered is licensed and, if that party is a specialist, an accredited health professional school or accredited residency or clinical research program in the same specialty.

The Michigan Appellate Court stated that MCL 600.2169(1)(b) makes no qualification of its applicability and, therefore, must be considered to apply generally to all medical malpractice actions, including those initiated against nonphysicians. Therefore, the plaintiff’s proposed expert witness on the standard of care must have devoted a majority of her professional time in the year immediately preceding April 26, 2010, the date of the alleged malpractice, to the active clinical practice of, or the instruction of students in, the same health profession in which the defendant registered nurse was licensed.

The Michigan Appellate Court stated that the plaintiff’s nurse practitioner expert testified during her deposition that she devoted a majority of her professional time in the year immediately preceding April 26, 2010, to the practice of, or the instruction of students in, the health profession of a nurse practitioner, which is different from the health profession of a registered nurse.

The Michigan Appellate Court held that the plaintiff’s medical expert, a certified nurse practitioner, was not qualified to testify as en expert with regard to the standard of care applicable to a registered nurse in a birth injury medical malpractice case because “[t]he health profession of nursing and the health profession of a nurse practitioner are different, as reflected in the fact that the former is practiced pursuant to a license while the latter is practiced pursuant to a registration or specialty certification. Because [the plaintiff’s nurse practitioner medical expert] did not spend the majority of her professional time in the year preceding the alleged malpractice practicing or teaching the health profession of nursing, as opposed to the health profession of a nurse practitioner, she did not satisfy the statutory criteria to testify concerning the standard of care applicable to [the defendant nurse], a registered nurse. [The nurse practitioner’s] testimony was thus properly excluded.”

Cox v. Hartman, Nos. 333849; 333994

If you or your baby suffered a birth injury during labor and/or delivery in Michigan or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Michigan birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find birth injury attorneys in your state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 25th, 2017 at 5:26 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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