Because Michigan law provides for two very distinct causes of action, which require an injured Plaintiff to prove different elements of a claim, it is important to determine which cause of action is appropriate in any particular case.

In this regard, Michigan case law indicates that the appropriate focus is whether the cause of action arose out of a professional relationship with a medical care provider and relied on that care provider’s professional medical skill or judgment. Bryant v Oakpointe Villa, 471 Mich 411, 422 (2004). Specifically, the Bryant Court provided a two-pronged test for determining whether the cause of action arises in medical malpractice or general negligence:

  1. Does the claim pertain to an action that occurred within the course of a professional relationship?
  2. Does the claim raise questions of medical judgment beyond the realm of common knowledge and experience?

If both questions are answered in the affirmative, then the cause of action sounds in medical malpractice. Id. Otherwise, the action is properly filed as a general negligence claim. Id.

Identifying the proper cause of action is important, as each type of action carries not only different proofs, but also different procedural aspects, such as the time-frame for filing a notice of intent in medical malpractice actions. MCL 600.2912b.