December 14, 2004
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: LIMITATIONS ON EXPERT TESTIMONY
By: Susan Price, Principal Analyst
You asked why (1) a retired endodontist may be precluded from testifying in medical malpractice cases and (2) whether other states have similar restrictions.
A 1986 Connecticut law permits medical experts to testify about the standard of care in medical malpractice cases only if they have been actively practicing or teaching within five years of the event giving rise to the lawsuit (PA 86-338, codified at CGS § 52-184c). The law was passed as part of a larger tort reform package. Although its legislative history is sparse and does not address your question, similar restrictions in other states were intended to block testimony from “hired guns” (i.e., non-practicing experts who make their living testifying in court) (10 Rev. Litig.117 (Fall 1990)).
Other states that require medical experts to have recent experience in the field include:
1. Alabama (Ala. Code § 6-5-548(e)),
2. California (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1799.110(c)),
3. Kansas (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-3412),
4. Maryland (Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. § 3-2A-03),
5. Michigan (Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.2169),
6. Ohio (Rules of Evidence, Rule 601(D),
7. Pennsylvania (40 Penna. Stat. § 1303.512),
8. Virginia (Va. Code § 8.01-581.20), and
9. West Virginia (W. Va. Code § 55-7B-7).