Must medical expert witness have 'same' credentials?


HOW CLOSELY MUST AN EXPERT MEDICAL WITNESS HAVE THE SAME (OR SIMILAR) EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND EXPERIENCE AS THE PHYSICIAN OR PHYSICIANS AGAINST WHOM HE OR SHE IS TO TESTIFY? That was the issue in this Georgia case in which the parents of a minor child engaged an expert medical witness to testify against several doctors whom they alleged ad committed medical malpractice in the care and treatment of their minor child. When the plaintiffs filed the required affidavit of their expert witness with their complaint, they had no clue that their expert medical witness, who had more than thirty years experience as a pediatric surgeon, would not be accepted as an expert and would not be allowed to give expert testimony as to the fact that the defendant doctors were guilty of medical malpractice. The plaintiffs learned otherwise after the defendants filed a motion that the expert witness' testimony not be allowed into evidence. After a hearing, the trial court ruled that the plaintiffs' witness would not be allowed to testify as an expert medical witness.

TIMOTHY AND ANDREA SPACHT, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS PARENTS OF THEIR MINOR SON NICHOLAS, SUED CHILDREN'S HEALTHCARE, DR. WENDY TROYER AND SIX OTHER DOCTORS FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE. The Spachts supported their complaint with an affidavit by Dr. David Schwartz, a pediatric surgeon, who opined that the defendant doctors had deviated from the applicable standard of care. Drs. Troyer and Dr. William Keys, both neonatologists, filed motions to dismiss, claiming that the affidavit was insufficient under because Dr. Schwartz was not qualified under Georgia law. Other defendant physicians filed similar motions to dismiss. The trial court concluded that it had insufficient information to determine whether Dr. Schwartz was competent to testify against the defendant doctors and ordered a pretrial hearing. After conducting the hearing and considering "all of the evidentiary materials of record," including a supplemental affidavit from Dr. Schwartz and affidavits and depositions from the defendant doctors, the trial court refused to allow Dr. Schwartz to testify as an expert witness on behalf of the plaintiffs. Accordingly, the trial court granted the defendant doctors' motions to dismiss. The plaintiffs obtained a certificate of immediate review. The Court of Appeals of Georgia granted the plaintiffs' petition for immediate review.


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