In New Jersey, as in many states including Pennsylvania, medical experts in medical malpractice cases must be qualified in a defendant doctor’s area of medicine to give an opinion that the doctor deviated from the standard of care. In a case involving thoracic cord compression, necrotic disc injury, permanent nerve damage and diabetic neuropathy, an appeals court in New Jersey held that a Neurologist was qualified to offer an expert opinion against an internal medicine physician, a physiatrist (rehabilitation physician), an emergency room doctor and an orthopedic surgean concerning treatment of these spinal cord and nerve disorders. Bull et al. v. Zeidman et al., 2007 WL 1008887 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.).
As in Pennsylvania, the court concluded that the Neurologist’s credibility was to be decided by the jury, which could weigh his testimony, education and experience. Although the Neurologist was not board-certified in any of the defendant physicians’ specialties, because he had 25 years of experience as a Neurologist and had experience treating patients with the plaintiff’s spinal cord and nerve disorders, he was qualified to offer his opinion to the jury.
In Pennsylvania, although the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (“MCARE Act”) does generally require same specialty match in order for a medical expert to be qualified to offer standard of care opinions, there are some exceptions. For example, orthopedic surgeons have been found qualified to offer standard of care opinions against defendant podiatrists. This is contrasted with Delaware, which now requires strict specialty matching as a minimun qualification for medical experts.