• The Heightened Standard for Expert Testimony under MCARE Only Applies to Medical Doctors Licensed by the State Board of Medicine
  • July 28, 2016 | Author: Daniel Dolente
  • Law Firm: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Philadelphia Office
  • The Superior Court was faced with the issue of whether a board-certified orthopedic surgeon met the qualification requirements of the MCARE Act to render a standard of care opinion against a board-certified podiatrist. Under MCARE, an expert testifying on a medical matter must: (1) possess a license to practice medicine; (2) be currently engaged in or retired from active clinical practice or teaching within the last five years; (3) be familiar with the applicable standard of care; (4) practice in the same subspecialty as the defendant physician or a subspecialty with a substantially similar standard of care; and (5) be board-certified by the same board or a similarly approved board.

    In Price, the trial court granted compulsory non-suit and dismissed the case after finding that the plaintiff’s proposed expert witness did not meet those qualifications because he was a board-certified orthopedic surgeon (not a podiatric surgeon) who had not performed surgery in over eight years.

    The Superior Court reversed and found that the heightened standard that MCARE assigned to experts giving medical testimony only concerns medical doctors licensed by the State Board of Medicine. Because a podiatrist is not a “medical doctor” and is licensed by the State Board of Podiatry, the Superior Court held that the MCARE requirements do not apply to cases involving non-physician defendants. Instead, in granting a new trial, the Superior Court applied the common law standard, i.e., that a witness is qualified to testify if he has any reasonable pretension to specialized knowledge on the subject under investigation. Under that standard, the Superior Court found that a board-certified orthopedic surgeon could offer an opinion against a board-certified podiatric surgeon.

    This opinion provides clear support to the position that a health care provider, such as a podiatrist, dentist, nurse, etc., who is not licensed by the State Board of Medicine does not have the same protections that MCARE’s expert requirements provides to medical doctors. As such, counsel and providers should be aware that the common law standard for an adverse expert opinion still applies when the defendant is a medical professional who is not a medical doctor licensed by the state board of medicine.