How to handle expert witnesses with disciplinary charges/orders.
There has been some controversy recently in the community of Maryland lawyers who handle personal injury and worker’s compensation claims.
It can sometimes be difficult to locate medical providers who will treat patients who were injured in accidents or on the job. If the patient was injured in an accident, the physician may have to wait for payment until the personal injury case resolves. In the case of a work-related injury, the physician must by law accept payment according to the fee schedule set by the Maryland Worker’s Compensation Commission, which is usually far less than the rates paid by private insurers. Many medical providers aren’t willing to accept these conditions, so the few who will are an invaluable resource for Maryland personal injury lawyers and our clients.
One of the local medical practices willing to treat these sorts of patients has become involved in proceedings before the Maryland Board of Physicians. Some of their doctors have pending disciplinary charges, and some others have already consented to orders resolving the charges. This has attracted the attention of those in the legal community working on those sorts of cases, and has been commented on by industry bloggers.
I kind of view this as a tempest in a teapot. The charges are not the sort where I would expect any of the physicians involved to lose their licenses or have them suspended.
Perhaps most importantly, the existence of the charges and/or disciplinary orders before the Maryland Board of Physicians is not discoverable or admissible in any civil or criminal action in the State of Maryland.
We have a statute for this- Md. Health Occupations Code Ann. §14-410 (a). The statute says that:
(1) The proceedings records, or files of the Board or any of its investigatory bodies are not discoverable and are not admissible in evidence; and
(2) Any order passed by the Board is not admissible in evidence.
So if you find that you have a treating physician or an expert witness who has been involved in proceedings before the Maryland Board of Physicians, relax. Those proceedings are never going to come into evidence, and the jury will never hear about them. Provided, of course, that you are prepared with a motion in limine citing the law on the issue.