S.C. High Court Throws Out Medical Expert Licensing Rule

August 27, 2006

A new law requiring out-of-state doctors to get a temporary South Carolina medical license before testifying as experts in court has been suspended by the state Supreme Court.

The court “cannot allow the administration of justice to be substantially impaired,” the justices said in an order last week.

Lawmakers approved the change this year as part of a bill dealing with the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Supporters say requiring doctors from elsewhere to get a $75 limited state license is the best way to hold them accountable for their court testimony.

Opponents say the change might discourage doctors from elsewhere from being called in court to testify about medicine in the state.

The justices noted the courts have always had the power to determine whether experts are allowed to testify. In addition, they noted the law ignores several scenarios, including what happens when a doctor licensed in South Carolina relocates elsewhere and then returns to testify.

The order said the suspension is temporary and the justices expected state lawmakers to provide “further clarity.” The General Assembly reconvenes in January.

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