The case of Detloff v. Absecon Manor Nursing Center, Docket No. A-5941-07T2 (App. Div., August 4, 2009) arose out of the care and treatment provided to decedent while she was admitted at defendant Absecon Manor, a long-term care facility. Plaintiff, executrix of the estate of Mary Mazzei, filed a complaint alleging nursing malpractice supported by an affidavit of merit executed by a licensed registered nurse who specialized in wound care nursing and nursing administration certifying that the nursing home failed to meet the appropriate standard of case. The parties then engaged in discovery. Upon completion of discovery, defendant moved for summary judgment. Among the reasons defendant asserted as a basis for the granting of the motion was that plaintiff failed to provide competent expert testimony establishing causation and damages. Alternatively, defendant argued that plaintiff’s expert was statutorily prohibited from rendering a medical diagnosis or providing an opinion as to the cause of an underlying disease. The trial court judge granted summary judgment, dismissing the complaint. The trial court found as “a matter of law, [that] a nurse is not qualified to a render medical opinion with respect to causation.” On appeal, the appellate court reversed and remanded for trial on all claims except plaintiff’s wrongful death claim. The court ruled that the “opinions reached by [the licensed registered nurse] do not require a medical diagnosis. Indeed, it is of common knowledge that the day-today care of nursing home residents is generally undertaken not by physicians but by nursing staff such as licensed practical nurses and nursing aides under the supervision of a registered nurse. The level of involvement of nurses in nursing home care is expressly addressed in regulations promulgated by the Department of Human Services.” Therefore, given the scope of nursing care under the direction of a nursing administrator, the court ruled that a nurse can testify on the issue of causation, but those opinions did not extend to the cause of plaintiff’s death.

The Detloff v. Absecon Manor Nursing Center case can be found here – Detloff v. Absecon Manor Nursing Center