Missouri Appellate Court Rules Heartland Independent Living Center Is Not A Health Care Provider

The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District (“Missouri Appellate Court”) held in a case determining which statute of limitations applied in a case where the disabled plaintiff was scalded by the alleged negligence of a home health care worker: “even though Heartland [Independent Living Center] produced evidence that its employee who scalded Noelke was a certified nurse’s aide, that employee’s certification is irrelevant to Heartland’s status as an entity providing health care services. Only Heartland, not the individual employee, was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and thus only Heartland’s status as a health care provider determines the applicable statute of limitations. Moreover, courts do not consider the certifications of the individual employees in determining whether the employer meets the definition of a health care provider … Because we find that Heartland is not a health care provider, it is not necessary to reach the second prong of Section 516.105: namely, whether the negligence Noelke complained of was related to health care. We find that Section 516.105’s two-year statute of limitations was not applicable here, and, rather, the five-year statute of limitations set forth in Section 516.120(4), RSMo. Supp. 2017, applied. Noelke here filed her petition for negligence within five years, and thus her petition is not time barred.”

Section 516.105 provides that actions against the following defendants must be filed within two years: “All actions against physicians, hospitals, dentists, registered or licensed practical nurses, optometrists, podiatrist, pharmacists, chiropractors, professional physical therapists, mental health professionals licensed under chapter 337, and any other entity providing health care services and all employees of any of the foregoing acting in the course and scope of their employment, for damages for malpractice, negligence, error or mistake related to health care.”

Heartland did not claim to offer one of the listed professional services but argued it falls into the last category of an “entity providing health care services.” Applying the language of Section 516.105, to be entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on its theory that Noelke’s petition was barred by the two-year statute of limitations in Section 516.105, Heartland had the burden to prove both that it was an entity providing health care services and that the malpractice, negligence, error, or mistake Noelke complained of was related to health care.

The Missouri Appellate Court stated that Section 538.205 defines a health care provider as follows: “[A]ny physician, hospital, health maintenance organization, ambulatory surgical center, long-term care facility including those licensed under chapter 198, dentist, registered or licensed practical nurse, optometrist, podiatrist, pharmacist, chiropractor, professional physical therapist, psychologist, physician-in-training, and any other person or entity that provides health care services under the authority of a license or certificate.”

The Missouri Appellate Court stated that “in-home personal care service is not one of the enumerated professions in Section 538.205(6). Moreover, providers of in-home personal care services are not required to have a license or certificate to operate, and Heartland did not produce evidence here that it provided its services under a license or certificate from the state or federal government. Under these facts, Heartland does not meet the definition for health care provider applying the plain language of Section 538.205(6).”

Source Noelke v. Heartland Indelendent Living Center, No. ED109295.

If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of home health care negligence in Missouri or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Missouri medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your home health care malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a home health care negligence case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 4th, 2021 at 5:30 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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