Arizona News

Arizona medical malpractice legislation has unresolved legality

In this year's session, Arizona doctors got a piece of key legislation they were pushing, but the law is being challenged and has been called “illegal”. The new Arizona law limits who can testify against doctors in medical malpractice claims, requiring expert witnesses in the cases to practice in the same area as the physician being sued.

For instance, if the defendant is “board certified” in a specialty, the witness must also be certified by the same board. According to a Tucson attorney, and past president of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, board certification does not necessarily infer the physician is better qualified than another one who is not since it is optional and some doctors might not want to be involved with the politics of the board.

In addition, lawyers are concerned that the legislation could make it difficult to find witnesses, citing Texas' situation as an example, saying a board is trying to revoke the certification of a doctor who testified against another board member. The legislation is also been challenged as being illegal, based on the state Constitution that gives courts the power to determine who can testify.

The new law also contains a provision that would permit a doctor to apologize for a medical mistake without having the statement used in court.

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