Earlier this week the Florida State Legislature passed a bill which would require expert witnesses testifying against a physician in a medical malpractice case to practice in the in the exact specialty of medicine as the defendant physician. This is an important piece of legislation which Governor Rick Scott should sign into law.
Florida already requires that expert witnesses review and certify cases for potential medical malpractice prior to these claims being litigated. The problem that Florida has experienced is the lack of expertise of the reviewer. Every medical malpractice case is based upon the standard of care not being met. It is difficult for a physician to know the standard of care in the field of medicine that he or she does not practice. Traditionally, there have been some witnesses that feel confident to testify to standards of care in dozens of specialties of medicine. The basis for these “experts’ ” opinions has solely been the plaintiff’s attorney ability to cut a check.
Senate Bill 1792 cuts into the ability of professional witnesses to testify to a variety of medical specialties. This is a good thing. The whole idea of requiring an expert witness is to provide accurate and current information regarding standard of care in a given medical case. This piece of legislation moves us much closer to that goal. By signing the SB 1792, Gov. Scott will protect Florida physicians and increase the overall integrity of medical malpractice litigation in his state.