Does your medical expert witness meet your state’s statutory qualification requirements?

Many states require the plaintiff’s expert in a medical malpractice case to be board certified in the same specialty as the defendant.  The dire consequence of an attorney’s failure to meet this requirement precisely was recently demonstrated in Shadrick v. Grana (https://acis.alabama.gov/displaydocs.cfm?no=907441&event=5BT0M4P9Y). The plaintiff’s husband was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of heart attack and died 24 hours later.  There were two defendants – an internist/hospitalist who examined the patient and concluded that he needed a cardiac catheterization, and a cardiologist with whom the internist consulted by phone, but who failed to come to the hospital to perform the catheterization until it was too late.  The plaintiff settled with the cardiologist, and the internist moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff’s expert, a board certified cardiologist, was not qualified under Alabama law to render an opinion on the standard of care for a board certified internist.  

The relevant Alabama statute provides that a plaintiff’s expert must be a “similarly situated health care provider”; if the defendant is a specialist, “similarly situated” means a physician who “is certified by an appropriate American board in the same specialty.”  Of course, since cardiology is a subspecialty of internal medicine, the plaintiff’s expert was board certified in internal medicine as well as cardiology.  Nevertheless, the trial court struck the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert and granted the motion for summary judgment, and its decision was affirmed on appeal.  Internal medicine is itself a specialty, and since the defendant was board certified in internal medicine only, the plaintiff needed an expert with exactly the same certification, not one who was also certified in a subspecialty.

Vident Partners takes a consultative approach to referral, rather than using technology to replace the human element.  Among other things, this enables us to ensure that every expert we refer is in precisely the right specialty.  The comprehensive, in-depth conversations that we have with our attorney-clients and with potential experts frequently enable us to provide the client with new insights into a case, to sharpen the issues, and sometimes to determine that the case requires an expert in a different field of specialization than the one the client originally requested.  We work as a team in order to guarantee that our clients are getting the best possible service.  Our goal is to select the right expert for each referral. We are always available for consultation, and there is no charge for our services unless you retain an expert we’ve referred to you.

Please contact us for a free consultation and expert search.  We look forward to working with you.

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