EVEN UNSUPERVISED ACTS FALL WITHIN MICRA
Yet another blow has been delivered to injured persons and to the legal community as it applies to the non-economic cap of damages in California under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. In February of this year, the California Supreme Court ruled that the State’s cap on non-economic damages applies to losses and damages caused by the unsupervised acts of Physician Assistants.
The California Supreme Court determined that a Physician Assistant practices within the scope of his or her license when a physician assistant: (1) acts as the agent of a licensed physician; (2) performs the type of services authorized by the agency relationship with the physician; and (3) does not engage in an area of practice prohibited by the Physician Assistant’s Practice Act. Specifically, the Court found that a Physician Assistant who renders care and treatment to a patient without the adequate supervision of a licensed physician, does not render services outside the scope of his or her license, and is still protected by the MICRA limitations.
As a refresher, California’s MICRA statute limits recovery of non-economic damages for pain, suffering and other non pecuniary damages as a result of a health care provider’s negligence to the amount of $250,000.00. The ultimate purpose(s) behind the non-economic damage cap is, and was, to control and reduce the costs to physicians of acquiring liability insurance and limiting the physicians’ liability for the non-economic damages.
Once again, the protection of the physician and the potential for higher medical malpractice insurance costs outweighs the protection of the consumer/patient, even with unsupervised acts of a Physician Assistant.
Anticipate MICRA limitations again being on the California ballot in 2022. Perhaps at that time, the archaic MICRA limitations from 1975 will be brought current and provide for reasonable non-economic damages to injured patients at the hands of medical neglect.
The attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are available for a free initial consultation on any medical negligence issues. Please feel free to give us a call at your convenience.