Plaintiff Anesthesiologist’s Motion to Provide Expert Testimony on Radiology is Excluded

In a medical malpractice case, the defendant, an anesthesiologist, asked to testify as an expert in radiology.  The trial court excluded his testimony and the appeals court upheld the opinion.

Facts: This case (Abramowich v. Albert – Superior Court of Pennsylvania – September 18th, 2015) involves a medical malpractice action and will be of interest to Radiology/Nuclear Medicine Expert Witnesses.

Pauline Abramowich was undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, requiring the administration of anesthesia, which was performed by Dr. Andrew Michael Albert.  The Abramowich’s claim that Dr. Albert was negligent in intubating Pauline, causing an esophageal laceration and filed suit against him in May 2010.

Before trial, Dr. Albert stated that he would testify as an expert in anesthesiology and also retained an expert witness in radiology, Dr. Robert Hurwitz.  Dr. Hurwitz testified that Mrs. Abramowich’s injuries were caused by air or carbon dioxide that was put into her stomach during her procedure and were not caused by Dr. Albert.

Right before trial, however, Dr. Albert stated that he, too, would be testifying in the case as an expert in diagnostic radiology.  The plaintiff’s filed a motion seeking to exclude Dr. Albert from testifying as an expert in diagnostic radiology as he was not qualified to do so and that his testimony would be cumulative of that of Dr. Hurwitz.  The court granted this motion and the case went to trial.   The jury granted damages in favor of the plaintiff’s and reiterated that Dr. Albert was not qualified to opine in the field of diagnostic radiology.  Dr. Albert appealed.

Discussion: Dr. Albert challenged the lower courts opinion in excluding his causation testimony as an expert in diagnostic radiology.  He stated that the court acknowledged that he has some expertise in interpreting radiology images and many facets of his curriculum vitae point to experience in the field.  The court opined that even though Dr. Albert showed that he had some familiarity with diagnostic radiology, he doesn’t have a reasonable claim to the issues present in this case.  In addition, even though Dr. Albert may have experience reading radiology imagery, he does not have the relevant experience interpreting and analyzing the images, specifically regarding the issues in the current case.

In addition, Dr. Albert states that the court erred in its finding that he didn’t qualify as an expert witness under the MCARE Act.  He stated that he only needed to fulfill two qualifications of the statute as he was going to provide testimony on causation and not standard of care.  The two requirements are 1) Having an unrestricted physicians license to practice medicine in any state or DC and 2) Have an active clinical practice or have been teaching for the past 5 years. The court disagreed with Dr. Albert stating that even though he is correct in that these two requirements are necessary to be qualified as an expert, he must still meet other requirements under the act, specifically that he does not possess the sufficient education, training, knowledge and experience to opine on interpreting radiology images.

Last, the court agreed with the lower court in that Dr. Albert’s testimony would be cumulative of that of Dr. Hurwitz, not corroborative, as argued by the defendant.  The court stated that there is no evidence, and Dr. Albert did not provide any, that his testimony would not be substantially similar to that of Dr. Hurwitz.

Held:  The lower court’s exclusion of Dr. Albert’s expert testimony on diagnostic radiology is affirmed.