Psychiatry Expert Successfully Demonstrates Compliance with Ohio’s Expert Competency Rule

    Wendy Ketner, M.D.

    Written by
    — Updated on June 29, 2021

    Psychiatry Expert Successfully Demonstrates Compliance with Ohio’s Expert Competency Rule

    Court: Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth Appellate District, Franklin County
    Jurisdiction: Federal
    Case Name: R.T. v. Knobeloch
    Citation: 2018 Ohio App. LEXIS 2945

    The defendant appeals a malpractice verdict concerning pediatric psychiatric care. They claim the plaintiff’s psychiatry expert was not qualified to participate in the initial trial. Specifically, they assert the expert was not qualified under the Ohio Evidence Rule 601(d). Therefore, according to the defendant, the expert’s testimony on the standard of care should not stand.

    The court disagrees. It discusses how Ohio Evid. R. 601(d) dictates that medical experts must devote at least 50% of their time to active practice. The court says the plaintiff’s expert satisfies this requirement. As such, the court found no reason to reverse the trial court’s decision.

    Facts

    The plaintiff’s mother filed the initial case against the defendant, a physician, following treatment of her child. The defendant referred the child for psychiatric counseling and prescribed medication. The child later displayed a severe skin reaction requiring hospitalization. As a result, the mother claimed medical malpractice, negligence, and a lack of informed consent.

    A jury trial sided with the plaintiff. After this, the defendant appealed the decision. In this appeal, the defendant alleged the plaintiff’s psychiatry expert witness was not qualified as an expert.

    The Plaintiff’s Psychiatry Expert Witness

    The plaintiff’s psychiatry expert witness was a specialist in child psychiatry. He was board-certified in psychology and neurology. Further, the expert had been in active clinical practice for over 30 years. Portions of his practice were devoted to child and adolescent psychiatry.

    In their appeal, the defendant claimed the plaintiff’s psychiatry expert witness was unqualified to appear as an expert under the Evid. R. 601(d). Specifically, the defendant said the expert didn’t devote at least half of his time to clinical practice or teaching at an accredited school. As such, the defendant asserted the expert could not opine on the standard of care.

    Further, the defendant cited Hunt v. Crossroads Psychiatric & Psychological Ctr. Here, the court excluded a psychiatry expert for failure to demonstrate sufficient active practice time.

    Discussion

    The appellate court addressed the precedent set in the Hunt case. It explained that the Hunt psychiatry expert could not prove that they spent at least half of their professional time in clinical practice. For this reason, the Hunt court threw out the testimony, per Evid. R. 601(d).

    But unlike the expert in that case, the present plaintiff’s expert was an actively practicing psychiatrist. The expert successfully demonstrated that he devoted more than half of his professional time to practicing child and adolescent psychiatry. Thus, the court found no reason to grant this appeal.

    Ruling

    The court denied the defendant’s appeal to dismiss the plaintiff’s psychiatry expert witness’s testimony.

    Key Takeaways for Experts

    This case showcases the importance of understanding your jurisdiction’s specific expert witness governance. Ohio, like many other states or cities, has specific admissibility rules experts must follow. Especially for medical or scientific experts, make sure your qualifications follow these guidelines to avoid a potential exclusion on a technicality.

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