AZ allows law limiting choice of experts in medical practice suits

The Arizona Supreme Court has voted to uphold a 2005 law that limited who qualifies as an expert patients can enlist in their defense during medical malpractice suits.

The statute states that anyone who wants to testify as an expert witness against a physician in such a suit must be a licensed healthcare provider, a specialist in the same area as the defendant and actively practicing or teaching in that area.

Originally, the state court of appeals had ruled, in 2008, that the teaching or practicing requirement was unconstitutional, given that the Supreme Court's rules of evidence only required that experts by qualified by "knowledge, skill, experience, training or education."

However, the Supreme Court ruled that while as a body, it generally had the right to decide how trials are conducted, it concluded that the legislature was permitted to make "substantive" policy changes dictating what plaintiffs in civil suits must prove to win cases.

To learn more about the decision:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece

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