Grant v. Lee
A patient who alleges that her breasts were groped when she went to a walk-in medical clinic for treatment of sinusitis can be required to file a written opinion from a similar healthcare provider that the defendant was negligent. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Deirdre Grant, suffered from sinusitis and went to Midstate Medical Center for medical treatment. The defendant, Stephen Lee, is a physician's assistant and treated the plaintiff. During the physical exam, Grant alleged that Lee lifted her hospital gown and, without her consent, "rubbed his hands across her breast, stopped and palpated her sternum and then rubbed her breast." Grant sued, alleging that she suffered severe emotional distress. The defendants moved to dismiss and argued that Grant failed to attach a written opinion from a similar healthcare provider, as required by Connecticut General Statutes §52-190a(a). The statute provides, "To show the existence of such good faith, the claimant or the claimant's attorney . . . shall obtain a written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider . . . that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence and includes a detailed basis for formation of such opinion." When ruling whether a claim sounds in medical malpractice, courts may consider whether: 1.) the defendants are sued in their capacities as medical professionals; 2.) the alleged negligence is of a specialized nature that arises out of the medical professional-patient relationship; and 3.) the alleged negligence is substantially related to medical diagnosis or treatment and involves the exercise of medical judgment. A physical examination conducted by a medical professional for any reason "is care or treatment that requires compliance with established medical standards of care and, thus, necessarily is of a specialized medical nature," pursuant to Nichols v. Milford Pediatric Group, a 2013 decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. Grant conceded that she sued the defendants in their capacities as medical professionals. The court found that Grant's complaint alleged negligence of a specialized medical nature and that the physician assistant's alleged negligence involved the exercise of medical judgment. The court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, because the plaintiff did not provide a written opinion from a similar healthcare provider.