Iowa Supreme Court Clarifies Requirements for Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases

Posted on: January 5th, 2024

In 2017, the Iowa legislature amended several provisions of the Iowa Code related to medical malpractice, including §147.139, which now requires expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case to meet more stringent qualifications to be able to testify. One of those requirements is that the proposed expert “is licensed to practice” medicine. Since amendment, the new medical malpractice provisions have been subject to much hotly-contested litigation. In Hummel v. Smith, et al., the Plaintiff’s proposed expert had an inactive license (a “retired” licensee) when he signed the certificate of merit for the lawsuit. The defendant moved to disqualify the expert, claiming that he did not meet the requirements of § 147.139 as “licensed to practice.” The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the defendant, and held that the amendment to §147.139 meant that any proposed expert in a medical malpractice case needed to have a current, active license to practice medicine. Because the plaintiff’s expert no longer had an active license to practice medicine, he did not satisfy the requirements, and the case was reversed with instructions to enter judgment for the defendants.

 

Hummel v. Smith, et al., No. 22-1572 (Iowa 2023) (slip op.).

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