Within sixty (60) days of the filing of a Complaint with the Court in a medical malpractice case the injured party plaintiff must file a “Certificate of Merit”. The Certificate of Merit is a document that must state one of three things: 1) that an “appropriate licensed professional” has signed a written statement that the treatment provided by the medical provider fell below the standard of care and caused injury to the plaintiff; 2) that the claim is based on allegations that other persons for whom the defendant is responsible provided treatment that fell below the standard of care; or 3) that expert testimony is not needed in this case.
The “appropriate licensed professional” referenced above must meet the qualifications for an expert set forth in the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE).
If a plaintiff fails to file a Certificate of Merit within the time frame required and has also failed to get an extension of time for doing so, the case may be dismissed. A separate Certificate of Merit must be filed for each defendant listed in the Complaint.
The qualifications for an expert under the MCARE Act will be discussed in my next Blog entry.