When the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the MCARE Act (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act) the standard for admissibility of a medical expert’s testimony in a medical malpractice action became more stringent by the imposition of specific additional requirements, not present in the more open common law standard. Prior to the MCARE Act it was generally accepted in Pennsylvania that in medical malpractice actions, an expert with a generalized knowledge of the issue at hand was permitted to testify regardless of his or her particular field of expertise or specialty, and the Court’s were given wide latitude in allowing such expert testimony.

§512 of the MCARE Act, after going through the more general qualifications necessary  states that as a General Rule, that an expert must be board certified by the same or similar approved Board and practice the same subspecialty of the defendant physician. However, § 512 (e) the Act states the following:

Otherwise adequate training, experience and knowledge.- – A Court may waive the same specialty and board certification requirements for an expert testifying as to a standard of care if t he court determines that the expert posses sufficient training, experience and knowledge to provide the testimony as a result of active involvement in or full-time teaching of medicine in the applicable subspecialty or a related field of medicine within the previous five years.
 

Recently, the Supreme Court in Vicari vs. Spiegel, 989 A.2d 1277 (Pa. 2010) ruled an expert may be permitted to testify at trial in a medical malpractice case even though the testifying expert is board certified in a different field from the defendant doctor, and even though the expert practices in a subspecialty different from the specialty of the defendant doctor.
   
In Vicari Plaintiff’s expert was a medical oncologist while the defendant physicians were a radiation oncologist and an otolaryngologist. The defense moved to have Plaintiff’s expert stricken as not meeting the standard under §512 of the MCARE Act. The Supreme Court ruled:

However, there is an exception to the same specialty and same board-certification requirements: if a court finds that an expert witness has sufficient training, experience, and knowledge to testify as to the applicable standard of care, as a result of active involvement in the defendant physician’s subspecialty or in a related field of medicine, then the court may waive the same specialty and same board certification requirements.

 

Therefore, under Pennsylvania law, though getting a Plaintiff’s expert qualified in medical malpractice is much more difficult than it once was, showing that your expert has sufficient expertise in the specific medicine applicable to the factual situation of the case, and that the Standard of Care is same or similar in different specialties on that particular issue, Plaintiff’s expert will be allowed to testify.