Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness Not Allowed Due to Lack of Data

Summary: The court ruled that the testimony of an Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness should not be allowed in a medical malpractice case involving a child with cerebral palsy.

Facts: This case (Gonzalez-Arroyo v. Doctors’ Center Hospital Bayamon, Inc. et al – United States District Court – District of Puerto Rico – August 5, 2020) involves a medical malpractice claim.  The plaintiff claims that the defendant hospital and doctor should be held liable for his son’s cerebral palsy which could have been prevented by stopping the child’s loss of oxygen at birth.  In order to prove his case, the plaintiff hired Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) Expert Witness Dr. Barry Schifrin to testify on his behalf.

The defendant filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Schifrin, stating that 1) his opinions are assumptions and based on insufficient information, 2) his opinions do not establish a national standard of care, 3) his opinions do not have any references to medical literature, and 4) his opinions are not reliable.

The court has opined that although the defendant has established that Dr. Schifrin is an obstetrician gynecologist and lacks formal training in pediatric neonatology, it has not established that Dr. Schifrin is not a qualified expert witness.  The court also notes that there were only two and half pages dedicated to Dr. Schifrin’s opinions. In addition, the court adds that in that section, Dr. Schifrin states that he lacks information such as the fetal monitoring strip or any neuroradiological examinations.

The court also states that Dr. Schifrin indicates that he must make assumptions because there was a lack of data for which to come to any conclusions.  Thus, Dr. Schifrin’s conclusion that there was a lack of standard of care by the nurse and the physician is not based on sufficient data or facts and not the product of reliable principles.

The court also says that not only does Dr. Schifrin’s testimony lack key medical data, but it fails to cite any medical literature. Further, while Dr. Schifrin’s expert witness report does indicate a standard of care, the report does not specify if it is the national standard, which is required by case law.

In addition, the court opines that the report does not provide any data to explain the conclusory finding that there was a deviation from the standard of care. Thus, the court says that Dr. Shifrin’s opinions would not help the trier of fact with regards to identifying the applicable standards of care and any alleged deviation from it by the defendants.

Conclusion:  The court opines that the expert witness testimony of Dr. Barry Schifrin will not be allowed in this case.