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.
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.’
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 physician assistant medical malpractice consulting service. He also reviews medical cases involving other healthcare professionals.
A PA-to-PA review is most suited for cases involving physician assistants.
In many cases, doctors would throw the physician assistant under the bus.
Stuart offers his PA expert witness services nationwide and has a medical license in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Florida.
Stuart has never gone to court because the cases either get settled, never proceed to trial, or proceed to trial without the physician assistant.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
The first step is getting a notice of intent. Then, the attorney will send the expert witness other necessary documents like hospital records.
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.
His PA expert witness journey began around 10 to 11 years ago. The number and frequency of cases he got were not that consistent.
Stuart: “Sometimes, you get a case; sometimes, you don't.”
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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