Understanding the Same-Specialty Requirement

Dubois v. Brantley, — S.E.2d — 2015 WL 4181840 (Ga. 2015)

In this case, the Supreme Court of Georgia imposed a limit on the “same specialty” requirement for experts testifying about whether the defendant complied with the applicable standard of medical care. The court below held that “a surgeon was not qualified as a matter of law … to give expert testimony about negligence in connection with a laparoscopic procedure to repair an umbilical hernia because he had not performed more than one laparoscopic procedure to repair an umbilical hernia in the last five years, notwithstanding that the surgeon had performed many other abdominal laparoscopic procedures during that time.” The Supreme Court decided that an expert witness’s and the defendant’s clinical experiences need not be completely identical, so long as they practice medicine in the same specialty and the expert shows “an appropriate level of knowledge” about the procedure in question. The expert’s experience with similar procedures would normally allow her to satisfy the “same specialty” requirement.