Peter L. MacIsaac wrote of worrying developments in medical malpractice law in the June 2016 issue of New Jersey Law Journal, a publication of the New Jersey State Bar Association. The article, entitled “Does the Patients First Act Really Put Patients First?” detailed the effects of an amendment to the affidavit of merit (AOM) statute. The AOM statute, enacted in 1995, originally mandated that plaintiffs in a professional negligence action must provide an expert witness to testify that the defendant deviated from the standards of the profession, and that this expert witness must have relevant expertise in the form of a board certification or substantial practice in the area relevant to the action.

In 2004, this statute was amended by the Patients First Act (PFA) to further require that in medical malpractice suits, the expert witness must also be specialized in the same area as the defendant at the time of the alleged malpractice. Questioning whether this requirement is effective in rooting out frivolous malpractice suits, Mr. MacIsaac summarized several cases in which the PFA amendment to the AOM was strictly enforced, leading to the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case due to the expert witness not having the exact same specialty as the defendant, not specializing in the same area at the time of the complaint, or simply because the plaintiff missed the deadline to produce such an expert. Mr. MacIsaac advised plaintiffs to take heed of these strict conditions, while criticizing the flawed reasoning behind the PFA and the unnecessary burden it places on malpractice victims.

Mr. MacIsaac is the chair of the Firm’s Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Department.

This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of New Jersey Lawyer magazine, a publication of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and is reprinted here with permission. Click Read More to download the article.

Chasan Lamparello
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