Medical malpractice expert witnesses face tougher scrutiny

When someone files a medical malpractice claim, expert witnesses can be the difference between winning and losing the case because of the expertise that they contribute to the lawsuit. But, that’s only if the expert witness makes it to the stand.

In some states, legislation is making it increasingly difficult for expert witnesses to qualify to give testimony in medical malpractice cases – which, in many cases, means that a lawsuit is dead in the water before it even begins.

States Strengthening the Requirements for Medical Malpractice Experts

Although, generally, expert witnesses just need to prove their medical expertise in order to testify in a malpractice case, some states are raising this bar to limit who can be considered an expert by the courts.

Texas. In 2003, guidelines went into effect that requires expert witnesses to prove that they had been practicing medicine at the time that the medical malpractice claim arose. In addition, potential expert witnesses must demonstrate that they know the standards of care associated with the diagnosis, treatment and management of the injury or condition that is the basis of the claim.

Arkansas. In 2003, the Arkansas legislature passed a measure that would require expert witnesses to practice medicine in the same specialty as the doctors being sued for malpractice. Earlier this year, that legislation was overturned because the Arkansas Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional.

Florida. In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a bill that would require expert witnesses from other states to obtain a certificate from the Florida Board of Medicine. In addition, if the court finds that the expert has testified in a deceptive or fraudulent manner, this certification can be revoked.

Medical Malpractice Reform


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