Vascular Surgeon Fails To Schedule Critical Consult, Allegedly Causing Fatal Septic Shock


Vascular Surgery Expert

Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Statesboro Division
Jurisdiction: Federal
Case Name: Dutton v. United States
Citation: 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151769

Facts

The plaintiff’s husband was referred to the defendant vascular surgeon for arterial ischemia by a doctor from a primary health care clinic. The referring physician requested that the consult occur within one month of the referral. The defendant scheduled a consult for September 17, however, the patient died suddenly of sepsis on August 19. The plaintiff filed a case of medical malpractice against the defendant under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging that the defendant’s violation of the standard of care in not scheduling the consult within a month was the proximate cause of death.

The defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s experts under a motion for summary judgment.

Discussion

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s first expert was not qualified enough in the fields of general and vascular surgery to testify as an expert under Rule 702. He contended that to qualify as an expert in Georgia, the witness must have specialized knowledge of the relevant area through teaching or active practice, and must belong to the same profession as the defendant or qualify for an exception to the same profession restriction.

The defendant also challenged the testimony of the plaintiff’s other witness on the grounds that an expert should show reasoning and analysis for not just the conclusion, but for every step of their opinion to qualify as an expert according to the standard set by Daubert. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s second expert failed to show a reasoned approach in coming to the testified opinion.

Held

The court granted the motion to exclude the testimony of both the plaintiff’s experts. Furthermore, because the plaintiff lacked other experts, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The court rejected the first expert’s testimony because he had not practiced as a general or vascular surgeon for many years and did not belong to the faculty of a medical institute in a similar field. The court determined that this witness failed to qualify as an expert as per the standard set by Daubert.

The second expert’s testimony was excluded because the court felt that the expert had failed to provide “factual or analytical support” to support his “conclusory statement” that the defendant had committed medical malpractice because he failed to prove that the defendant’s alleged negligence was the proximate cause of death.

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