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West Virginia’s Definition Of “Health Care Provider” Comes Into Play

What exactly is a “health care provider?” The term frequently comes up in state legislation in regards to against whom a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed. In Minnich v. MedExpress Urgent Care, Inc., the plaintiff found out that the definition is incredibly important to a lawsuit.

Joyce Minnich, on behalf of her deceased husband, Andrew Minnich, filed a lawsuit against MedExpress Urgent Care after her husband visited the South Charleston MedExpress to seek medical care for shortness of breath, weakness and possible pneumonia. Once in the examination room, Andrew attempt to access the examination table but fell and sustained cuts on his left forearm, wrist and hand. Andrew died 90 days later.

Joyce alleged that as a result of the fall, Andrew suffered a brain bleed and that the brain bleed contributed to his death.

As part of her lawsuit, Joyce asserted a claim of premises liability against MedExpress.

The circuit court granted summary judgment for MedExpress as to the premises liability claim and directed Joyce to amend her complaint to plead a medical malpractice claim compliant with the filing requirements of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act. Joyce then appealed, stating that the Act did not apply because Andrew was not treated by a “health care provider” prior to his fall within the MedExpress within the facility. More specifically, Joyce argued that the MedExpress medical assistant that saw Andrew did not qualify as a health care provider under the Act. And, because of that, the Act in and of itself is not applicable to the case.

However, the Supreme Court referenced the definition of health care provider contained within the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act which states that:

“a person, partnership, corporation, professional limited liability company, health care facility or institution licensed by, or certified in, this State or another state, to provide health care or professional health care services, including, but not limited to, a physician, osteopathic physician, hospital, dentist, registered or licensed practical nurse, optometrist, podiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, psychologist, emergency medical services authority or agency, or an officer, employee, or agent thereof acting in the course and scope of such officer’s, employee’s or agent’s employment.”

The paragraph explicitly references employees of statutorily-delineated entities. Because MedExpress is a health care facility and the nurse who saw Andrew was an employee of that facility, the Supreme Court ruled that the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act did in fact apply to the case.

Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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