Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Missouri Supreme Court Rules on "Same Specialty" Definition for Expert Testimony

The Missouri Supreme Court held that a radiologist who had performed similar procedures as a neurosurgeon was qualified to provide expert testimony in a case even though the two doctors held different board certifications.

In Spradling v. SSM Health Care St. Louis, Mo., a patient was suing Dr. William Sprich, alleging that he was negligent when performing a verteboplasty. Section 538.225.1 of the Missouri Code requires that a plaintiff bringing medical negligence charge must file an affidavit stating that he or she "has obtained the opinion of a 'legally qualified health care provider'" backing the claim of negligence. Section 538.225.2 defines the above term as "a health care provider license in this state or any other state in the same profession as the defendant and either actively practicing or within five years of retirement from actively practicing substantially the same specialty as the defendant."

The defense claimed that the plaintiff's expert witness was not qualified under this definition because his board specialty was in radiology, not neurosurgery. The court ruled that because the witness, Dr. John Mathis, had performed over 3,000 vertebroplasties and had written articles and presented lectures on the procedure, he was "practicing substantially the same specialty" as the defendant. Therefore, he was qualified to testify on the procedure, even though he was of a different specialty as the defendant.

Source: BNA

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