Expert Witness Certificates Print
Written by Michael J. Sacopulos, JD   
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 14:29

At the present time, expert witnesses do not need a certificate to testify in any medical malpractice action pending in the State of Florida. However, there is a bill pending before the Florida Senate that would require expert witnesses to receive a certificate prior to offering testimony in Florida medical malpractice cases. Senate Bill 1590, sponsored by Senator Hays (and co-sponsored by others) would require physicians, that are not licensed in the state of Florida, to receive a certificate from either the Florida Board of Medicine or the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine in order to testify regarding the prevailing professional standard of care in a medical malpractice case. First, we should note that this requirement has not been enacted into law yet.  Next, it is important to note that it would apply only to individuals not holding a valid license to practice medicine in the State of Florida.

Traditionally, judges have had wide discretion in determining who may provide expert testimony. However, many boards of medicine across the country have declared that the offering of expert testimony in their state constitutes the practice of medicine. This would seem to mean that the state boards of medicine should have some involvement with out-of-state expert witnesses offering testimony in their state. Florida SB 1590 seems to be the first action by any state to address this matter head on. If enacted, this law could allow the state boards of medicine to prohibit certain individuals from testifying in state court medical malpractice actions.

As currently described by SB 1590, an out-of-state health care provider would need to have an active license to practice medicine in another state or a province of Canada and submit "to the board a complete registration application in the format prescribed by the board." In addition, the individual would need to pay an application fee not exceeding Fifty Dollars ($50.00). The Florida State Board of Medicine or the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine would then have five business days to approve or deny the application for an expert witness certificate. The certificate would be valid for two years.

It will be interesting to see if this bill is enacted into law in Florida. If so, the law would be the first of its kind and certain to receive national attention. 

Michael J. Sacopulos is a Partner with Sacopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos, in Terre Haute, Indiana. His core expertise is in medical malpractice defense and third party payment disputes. Sacopulos is also the general counsel for Medical Justice. He may be reached at

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2011 12:55