Gambill v. Stroud

258 Ark. 766

 

RULE:

Under the “locality rule,” an expert testifying in a medical malpractice case should be familiar with the standards of practice in a locality similar to that where the malpractice allegedly occurred. This rule is not so restrictive as to require the expert to have practiced in that locality; it is simply a rule that is in place to set the minimum level of reasonable care of a profession.

FACTS:

The plaintiff sued for damages resulting from medical malpractice during a surgery to remove a thyroid cyst. At trial, five medical experts testified for the plaintiff to provide evidence in support of her claims that the doctor was negligent during the surgery. All five of the experts who testified were doctors with relevant practical experience; three of the doctors were from Jonesboro, one was from Memphis, and another was from Little Rock. The surgery took place in Jonesboro. All five of the experts testified that they were familiar with the standards of practice in the Jonesboro community.

ISSUE:

Should an expert testifying in a medical malpractice case be familiar with the standards of practice in a locality similar to where the malpractice occurred?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

On appeal, the court considered whether the “locality rule” is obsolete and concluded that it is not. The locality rule merely requires an expert who is testifying in a medical malpractice case to be familiar with the standards of practice in a similar locality. The rule is not so restrictive as to require the expert to have practiced in the same city. In this case, it was uncontroverted that the medical standards of practice in Jonesboro, Memphis, and Little Rock are comparable. Ultimately, the locality rule is in place to set the minimum level of reasonable care required by a professional, so it is not obsolete.

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