Medical Malpractice Expert Witness Excluded For Offering Erroneous Assumptions

    Medical Malpractice Expert

    Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
    Jurisdiction: Federal
    Case Name: Wendt v. Bowerman
    Citation: 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 2937


    In this medical malpractice case, an obese plaintiff with Type 2 Diabetes underwent a knee replacement surgery at a medical center in Michigan. The plaintiff’s anesthesiologist administered a sciatic nerve block, a femoral nerve block, and antianxiety medication. The plaintiff alleged that she sustained permanent nerve injury secondary to the nerve blocks administered to her during the surgery, and brought this action.

    The defendant anesthesiologist moved for summary disposition claiming that the plaintiff expert’s opinions were not supported by scientific literature and that they should, therefore, be excluded. The trial court held that the opinions of the anesthesiology expert were not reliable. The plaintiff appealed against the said order.

    The Expert

    The medical malpractice expert witness was an anesthesiologist in Williamsburg, Virginia. He received his medical degree from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and had been in practice for 20+ years.

    The expert opined that a sciatic nerve block should not be administered to a person suffering from diabetes and obesity. However, the expert did not mention any scientific literature to back this opinion.

    The expert claimed that the defendant anesthesiologist oversedated the plaintiff. He based this opinion on literature that discussed the appropriate dosage of the drug in question as well as his assumption that the plaintiff received 5 milligrams of said drug in a single dose. However, the defendant anesthesiologist demonstrated that he administered the drug in doses smaller than 5 milligrams. The defendant was also able to demonstrate that the dosage he administered was, in fact, in line with the same literature that the expert had cited. Therefore, the court held that the expert witness’s opinion was unreliable due to its factually incorrect premise.

    With regard to the expert’s opinion about sciatic nerve blocks, he assumed that the plaintiff had diabetic neuropathy. However, he was unable to show that the plaintiff actually had such neuropathy. The court, therefore, held that the medical malpractice expert’s opinions were unreliable.