A.R.S. § 12-2604 requires a med mal plaintiff to have an expert with the same board certification as a board-certified defendant. During the year before the occurrence of the malpractice, plaintiff’s expert must have devoted the majority of his/her time to the same specialty as the defendant.
Physicians who are board-certified in internal medicine may seek subspecialty certification in cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, etc.
So a patient in a rehab center had chest pain. The medical director, who was board-certified in internal medicine, undertook to address the issue with apparent success until the patient died several hours later from complications of congestive heart failure.
A cardiologist was designated as plaintiff’s expert in the ensuing malpractice case. The Court of Appeals, Division One, held that the cardiologist was not eligible to serve as plaintiff’s expert. Although the cardiologist was, by necessity, board-certified in internal medicine, he limited his practice to cardiology, and for the year prior to the occurrence did not practice more broadly in internal medicine as the defendant had. Thus, the specialties were mismatched under the statute.
All was not lost for the plaintiff. The issue was raised on the defendant’s motion for summary judgment after the close of discovery. The cardiologist was disclosed in plaintiff’s preliminary expert opinion affidavit pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-2603. The court noted that, under A.R.S. § 12-2603(F), the court “shall” allow a party a reasonable time to cure an alleged insufficiency. The court said plaintiff should get additional time to substitute another expert.
Preston v. Amadei (August 27, 2015)