MELISSA MICHELLE COX v. M. A. PRIMARY AND URGENT CARE CLINIC et al. (Tenn. June 21, 2010)
We granted permission to appeal in this case to address the standard of care that applies to a physician assistant in a medical malpractice case. The plaintiff sued for injuries she allegedly suffered as a result of physician assistant Michael Maddox's failure to diagnose her condition accurately. The plaintiff did not sue Maddox, but sued the clinic which he owned and in which he practiced and Dr. Austin Adams, Maddox's supervising physician.
The defendants filed a joint motion for summary judgment, supported by their testimony that (1) Maddox did not violate the standard of care applicable to physician assistants and (2) Dr. Adams did not violate the standard of care applicable to physicians. The plaintiff responded with her cardiologist's testimony that Maddox violated the standard of care applicable to primary care physicians. The cardiologist testified that he was not familiar with physician assistants or their supervision.
The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff had failed to establish that Maddox violated the professional standard of care applicable to him. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that the standard of care applicable to physician assistants is the same as that applicable to physicians. We reverse the Court of Appeals and hold that the standard of care applicable to physician assistants is distinct from that applicable to physicians. The trial court's summary judgment in favor of the defendants is reinstated, and the case is dismissed.
Opinion may be found at: