One of the major concerns that every attorney handling medical malpractice cases face is providing the appropriate affidavits of merit. To do so, the plaintiff’s attorney must satisfy the requirements enumerated in the Patients First Act, codified in part at N.J.S.A. §§2A:53A-41.  Since first promulgated in 2004, the statute has shown to be a potential pitfall for the unwary and even, at times, for the experienced practitioner. This has become especially pronounced as the practice of medicine has changed, technically and economically.

The problem arises as a statute, once enacted, is rigid; its application to an ever-changing field such as medicine creates unexpected issues. In the last 20 years alone, the number of specialties and subspecialities within medicine has proliferated, as has the development of technology that requires specialization. Some physicians, for reasons ranging from economics to adventurism, do not always limit their work to one specialty let alone one subspecialty. As attorneys who spend sufficient time in this area of practice will state, it is not uncommon to find a physician with one or more subspecialty doing work in one of them or none of them.