Nursing Expert’s Opinion on Medical Procedures Admitted Due to Previous Experience

The plaintiff claimed that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the defendant police officer, employed by the defendant city, shot the plaintiff.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Written by
— Updated on August 24, 2022

Nursing Expert’s Opinion on Medical Procedures Admitted Due to Previous Experience

Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Jurisdiction: Federal
Case Name: Cole v. Perry
Citation: 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156196

The plaintiff retained a nursing expert witness who created a life care plan. The nursing expert witness also opined on whether the prescribed drugs and other medical procedures were appropriate for the plaintiff. However, the defendant argued that she was unqualified to provide opinions on this. The defendant further claimed that she couldn’t opine because she couldn’t independently order medical procedures or prescribe drugs.

Facts

The plaintiff filed a suit against a police officer and the city. The plaintiff claimed that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the defendant police officer—whom the defendant city employed—shot the plaintiff.

The Plaintiff’s Nursing Expert Witness

The nursing expert witness was a certified nurse life care planner and a certified Medicare set-aside consultant. The expert also provided legal nurse consultancy services. She was the founder of a company that provided medical-legal nursing consultancy services. The nursing expert witness provided various services to those involved in litigations with medical issues. This included reviewing medical records, finding out whether the record was accurate or whether there was proof of tampering, or whether the medical report didn’t meet standards of care. She has been a certified legal nurse consultant since 2007. The expert also worked in various nursing and administrative roles before founding her own medical-legal nursing consultancy company. She has an Associate Degree in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a legal nurse consultant certification.

Arguments for Exclusion

The defendants argued that the nursing expert was not eligible to provide expert opinions on the plaintiff’s drugs, clinical results, diagnostic tests, and care. According to the defendant, the plaintiff should have received advice from a medical specialist. Since the nursing expert was unable to independently order medical procedures or prescribe drugs, she was not certified as an expert to provide evidence on these matters. The defendants further argued that her testimony and certain parts of the life care plan she created were inadmissible because she had not spoken with the plaintiff’s treating physician.

Discussion

The court noted that the nursing expert could not prescribe drugs or other medical procedures. However, the court did not agree that she was not eligible as an expert to give evidence as to whether these items would be appropriate because she had been a licensed nurse life-care planner. Furthermore, the basis of her life-care plan was the medical records of the patient. The court believed that the defendants could dispute the inclusion of evidence on an individual basis to the degree that the nursing expert’s testimony or the life care program contained items that she was not qualified to prescribe and which were not already in the plaintiff’s medical records. Nevertheless, without a more specific argument, the court saw no reason to exclude all evidence from the expert.

The court further observed that the defendants’ second argument for the exclusion of the expert’s testimony affected its weight and not admissibility.

Ruling

The court denied the defendants’ motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s nursing expert witness.

Key Takeaways for Experts

Your expertise as an expert, as well as your experience, should align with the issues you’re opining on. In this case, the defendant argued that the expert was unqualified to opine in this circumstance. The nursing expert witness could not prescribe drugs or other medical procedures. However, the court noted that because of her experience as a licensed nurse life-care planner, she could testify as an expert on this topic. If you have expertise or experience with the medical care involved, the opposition will have a harder time trying to discredit your qualifications.

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