D.C. Circuit Upends Med Mal Jurisprudence
A patient sued hospital operators alleging they violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) by making a material misrepresentation of the services provided when they failed to inform her that a first-year resident, not the board-certified surgeon she selected, would be performing her surgery. The court sent reverberations through the annals of medical malpractice jurisprudence when it reversed summary judgment in favor of the hospital. It held the burden of proof for a consumer protection claim against health care providers is the same as in a general consumer protection claim. The court unequivocally rejected the argument that a consumer must show an entrepreneurial nexus or motive to pursue a consumer protection claim against a health care provider. It found a CPPA claim against medical providers did not blur the line between CPPA claims and traditional medical malpractice claims. This decision exposes medical defendants to liability under the CPPA for treble damages and attorney’s fees.