The Importance of a Physician Assistant Expert Witness with Stuart Reich
Aug 18, 2022
There is a limit to the expertise of a lawyer. Cases involving industry-specific matters can be extremely complex without professional assistance. This is where an expert witness comes in.
An expert witness is someone with specialized knowledge or skill in a particular field, such as a medical professional. Thus, an expert testimony typically involves the evaluation of a material fact presented in court proceedings. It is an expert witness's duty to give an impartial opinion on issues raised in the court within the scope of their expertise.
In this episode, Stuart Reich joins us to give a glimpse of the work of a physician assistant expert witness in legal proceedings. He explains why a PA-to-PA review is critical in both plaintiff and defense cases involving physician assistants. He also highlights the weight of the geographical standard of care in medical malpractice cases involving PAs. Stuart then shares how he navigates between his legal reviews and medical practice.
If you want to know more about the work of a physician assistant expert witness, then this episode is for you.
Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
- Discover how a physician assistant expert witness helps attorneys in legal proceedings.
- Find out why a PA-to-PA review is critical in legal cases involving physician assistants.
- Learn some of the intricacies involved in medical malpractice cases.
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- Connect with Stuart: Email | LinkedIn l Website | 845-548-5459 |
Stuart’s Physician Assistant (PA) Background
- Stuart is a board-certified physician assistant. He’s been working as a physician assistant since 1982 and had his own surgical first assistant practice in 2001.
- Around a decade ago, Stuart received a request to review a case regarding PA malpractice.
- They reached out to Stuart because his name came up when they searched ‘physician assistant malpractice review.’
- Since then, he has continuously been getting requests for case reviews from all over the country.
Stuart: “I asked them, how did they find me and so on? They said, ‘Well, we looked up ‘physician assistant and malpractice review,’ and my name came up. So I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ So, I've been getting different cases from all over the country.”
- From this, he eventually founded a specialized PA medical malpractice consulting service. He also reviews medical cases involving other healthcare professionals.
Why a PA Expert Witness?
- A PA-to-PA review is most suited for cases involving physician assistants.
- In many cases, doctors would throw the PA under the bus.
- Many attorneys look for doctor-to-doctor, nurse-to-nurse, and PA-to-PA reviews in both plaintiff and defense cases.
The Work of a PA Expert Witness
- Stuart offers his services nationwide and has a medical license in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida.
- He can go to court if necessary, although he has mostly done depositions.
- He has never gone to court because the cases either get settled, never proceed to trial, or proceed to trial without the physician assistant.
- He does his piece without hearing the counter-argument of the other side's expert witness.
Stuart: “If a PA did something wrong, I'll tell them. If the PA didn't do anything wrong, I'm going to tell the attorney also.”
- Being a PA expert witness means providing an unbiased expert testimony on whether the PA did anything wrong or not.
Moshe: “You're not picking sides. You can be an expert witness and testify to the pieces that you want to testify to…There are pieces that paint a good picture, and there are pieces that paint a bad picture. And if you testify to the pieces that paint a good picture, then you can make somebody look really good…So depending on which side of the aisle you're on, you can pick and choose which things you want to harp on.”
Determining the Position of the PA in a Medical Malpractice Case
- It largely depends on the standard of care in the area where the practice occurred.
Stuart: “Usually, the standard of care is what the community holds and so on. So not that you have a booklet or anything like that, but you review the case—the hospital records, the doctor's records, the PA’s records and so on. You review the depositions on both sides of the plaintiff and the defense and so on, and then you form an opinion.”
- The opinion formed from the review will be the basis of the affidavit of merit. An attorney may also urge the expert witness not to write anything down that’s discoverable.
- A PA case review is like any other type of review in terms of the basic procedures.
Navigating His Legal and Medical Practice
- Stuart declines cases involving doctors and PAs he knows or a hospital he has worked in. Instead, he only reviews the data and offers his explanation.
- He loves doing both his medical practice and legal reviews.
Stuart: “I love what I do. I love to practice. I also love to do this review and so on. Sometimes, I have to get up 2 o'clock in the morning to do a C section and so on, but I still love that. And then, sometimes, I wouldn't get a case for like a month, month and a half, two months, and so on, but if I can get more, it would make a nice balance for my work and home life.”
Expert Testimony Turnaround Time
- The turnaround time usually varies depending on the attorney and how much time it takes to read all the documents.
- The first step is getting a notice of intent. Then, the attorney will send the expert witness other necessary documents like hospital records.
- Stuart personally prefers reading a hard copy of the file than a digital copy.
Stuart: “I read, and I read. It can take a few hours and so on, but at least I have an idea of what's going on and then I can give my opinion.”
- A PA expert review involves reviewing the notes of the PA, the nurse, and the doctor. It’s the only way to come up with an informed opinion.
Charging for a PA Expert Witness Review
- Stuart usually charges by the hour. However, it also depends on the case.
- Insurance typically covers defense cases. Thus, Stuart sometimes asks for the payment upfront so he wouldn't need to go after malpractice insurance companies.
- Meanwhile, the plaintiff’s attorney typically sends a check as an immediate payment for his service.
Stuart’s PA Expert Witness Beginnings
- His PA expert witness journey began around 10 to 11 years ago. The number and frequency of cases he got were not that consistent.
- He decided to start working toward getting more cases 2 to 3 years ago by building a website.
- Besides malpractice review, he also got to work on a case against a nursing home.
- To this day, he still doesn’t know how his name came up in the initial Google search that sparked his first PA malpractice review.
Stuart: “Sometimes, you get a case; sometimes, you don't.”
The Types of Cases Stuart Takes
- Stuart accepts PA, MD, nurses, and other medical-related case reviews.
- He will review whether there is a case or not, and then you can take it from there.
- He also offers being a pre-witness of a witness, which is helpful for evaluating whether a case has merit or not.
Stuart Reich is the founder of Stuart Reich PA Consulting. He is a board-certified physician assistant with over 25 years of clinical experience. Furthermore, Stuart performs malpractice reviews for physician assistants for both defense and plaintiff cases and has a uniquely diverse expert witness background. He has special expertise in internal medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, OB/GYN, and standard of healthcare services cases.
If you wish to get in touch with Stuart, you may connect with him on Stuart Reich PA Consulting’s website and on his LinkedIn profile. You may also get in touch with him on his contact number at 845-548-5459 and email address at [email protected].
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