“Medical Malpractice” vs. “Ordinary Negligence”

August 23, 2013

Multari v. Yale New Haven Hosp., — A.3d —, 2013 WL 4419113 (Conn.App. 2013)

The plaintiff and her granddaughter were ushered out of the hospital following the granddaughter’s postsurgical “thrashing around the recovery room.” The plaintiff was forced to leave the hospital on her foot while carrying her granddaughter without the benefit of a wheelchair. As a result, she tripped, fell on the ground, and sustained injuries. Her ensuing suit against the hospital was dismissed for failure to attach to her complaint “a certificate of good faith or an opinion letter” from a qualified expert (a “merit certificate”).

On appeal, the plaintiff’s suit was categorized as sounding in ordinary negligence, rather than medical malpractice, which exempted her from the duty to file a merit certificate. The plaintiff’s suit was consequently reinstated.

The appellate court based this decision on the tripartite test announced in Trimel v. Lawrence & Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center, 764 A.2d 203 (Conn.App. 2001). Under this test, “the relevant considerations in determining whether a claim sounds in medical malpractice are whether (1) the defendants are sued in their capacities as medical professionals, (2) the alleged negligence is of a specialized medical nature that arises out of the medical professional-patient relationship, and (3) the alleged negligence is substantially related to medical diagnosis or treatment and involved the exercise of medical judgment.”

For further discussion of this issue, click here.