Emergency Medicine Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants related to a medical malpractice claim.  Plaintiff hired an Emergency Medicine Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Santa-Cruz-Bacardi et al v. Metro Pavia Hospital, Inc. et al – United States District Court – District of Puerto Rico – July 26th, 2019) involves a claim of medical malpractice.  The plaintiffs have sued the defendants arguing that they should be held liable for the death of their father.  The defendants deny the allegations.  The plaintiff has hired Emergency Medicine Expert Witness Dr. Ian W. Cummings to provide testimony on their behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that Dr. Cummings’ testimony should be excluded because he does not have experience in the field of internal medicine, his report does not have any references to medical literature, and that his testimony only includes his conclusory statements, which are not sufficient to prove negligence.

The court first opines on the qualifications piece of their argument.  The defendant notes that Dr. Cummings has practiced for 25 years in the field of Emergency Medicine.  The defendant argues that Dr. Cummings’ testimony is unreliable because he is not a pulmonologist.  The court opines that this argument is without merit as courts have ruled that proffered expert physicians does not need to be a specialist in a particular medical discipline to render expert testimony about that discipline.

In addition, the court opines on the second argument from the defendant, who argues that Dr. Cummings’ report is devoid of medical literature to support his opinions.

The court notes that Dr. Cummings did cite to two medical articles.  The court opines however that he does not tie the articles he mentions to the defendant’s actions and fails to explain how the articles serve to establish that the defendant provided negligent care to the decedent.  The court also opines that the literature cited does not assist the trier of fact to determine a fact at issue.

Last, the court opines that Dr. Cummings’ report fails to establish how he reached the conclusions he did about the standards of care.  The court opines that Dr. Cummings does not articulate a general medical standard of care, not even a national one.  In addition, the court opines that Dr. Cummings’ experiences alone are not adequate enough to demonstrate a standard of care.

In addition, the court notes, “experts must prove that a standard of care is nationally used, rather than simply explaining a standard as based on their experience.”

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Ian W. Cummings is granted in part and denied in part.