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Doctors’ licensing rule for testimony in medical malpractice lawsuits blocks justice

Obtaining testimony for medical malpractice lawsuits recently got more difficult in South Carolina with barriers imposed by the state legislature. In June 2006, with the backing of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, a new law passed in South Carolina, requiring out-of-state doctors to obtain a temporary medical license before testifying in state court. The law requires out-of-state doctors to pay for a temporary license ($75.00) and also imposes stricter requirements to obtain documents from out of state.

This law seriously affects medical malpractice lawsuits that often rely on medical testimony. South Carolina prosecutors and medical malpractice lawsuit attorneys equally oppose this new law because it obstructs their ability to bring testimony into their cases. The chief prosecutor for Beaufort County, South Carolina said that many times people seriously injured in Beaufort or Hilton Head Island are taken to a Savannah, Georgia hospital because it is the closest trauma center. Now, those doctors licensed in good faith in another state would have to essentially be taxed in order to provide testimony in a South Carolina court.

Medical malpractice lawsuit attorneys have sued the state Board of Medical Examiners, saying the law violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection, due process, and free speech. The law has been temporarily suspended by the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

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