Admissibililty of Hearsay from Consulting Doctor

Can a defendant doctor testify about what he was told by a consulting doctor? No, according to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

The court held that the statement of the consultant (who received his information about the patient over the telephone from the defendant) was hearsay and that it did not meet the requirements of the 803(4) exception because it did not have “circumstantial guarntees of trustworthiness.” The court explained it this way: “We believe there to be a fundamental difference between statements describing a patient’s condition, symptoms, or history made for the purpose of fostering treatment, and statements made by a consulting physician with no personal knowledge of the patient’s condition or history. Although made for the purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment, such latter statements lack the guarantees of trustworthiness inherent in the former.”

Read the entire opinion here.