Bill Text - SB296 (2019)

Revision: Jan. 29, 2019, 3:07 p.m.










AN ACT relative to live medical testimony in courts.


SPONSORS: Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Rep. Webb, Rock. 6


COMMITTEE: Judiciary






This bill permits certain medical and dental records and reports to be admissible in civil proceedings as evidence of the necessity of and charges for certain medical and dental services, the diagnosis and prognosis of a physician or dentist, and certain opinions of physicians and dentists.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen


AN ACT relative to live medical testimony in courts.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Statement of Purpose.

I.  The general court finds that:

(a)  In the trial of lawsuits alleging bodily injury, requiring live testimony from physicians and other medical professionals adds significantly to the cost of litigation for all parties.

(b)  Introducing live medical testimony is time consuming and adds significantly to the cost to the judicial system of conducting such trials.

(c)  Requiring live medical testimony burdens physicians and other medical professionals by taking them away from their medical practices for hours or even days at a time, reducing their ability to provide needed attention and care to their patients.

(d)  Requiring live medical testimony can strain the physician-patient relationship, possibly affecting the quality of care.  Many physicians refuse to give testimony; some refuse to treat patients for whom later testimony might be needed.

(e)  Live medical testimony is often unnecessary as the information contained within the medical provider's records and reports adequately addresses the issues to be decided.

(f)  Live medical testimony is not required, and typically is not offered, in hearings held pursuant to RSA 281-A:43 with regard to workers' compensation claims, with no ill consequences in terms of the department of labor's ability to reach fair and equitable decisions efficiently.

II.  The purpose of this act is to reduce the costs to the parties and to the judicial system, and to reduce the burdens on medical practitioners and their patients, of requiring live medical testimony in trials of tort claims seeking damages on account of bodily injury.

2  New Section; Competency of Witnesses; Medical and Hospital Records, Bills, and Reports; Evidence in Certain Civil Cases.  Amend RSA 516 by inserting after section 29-b the following new section:

516:29-c  Medical and Hospital Records, Bills, and Reports; Evidence in Certain Civil Cases.

I.  Except as provided in paragraph V, in any civil proceeding before a court, commission, or agency, hospital medical records,  physician's and dentist's records, and reports relating to medical, dental, or hospital services; prescriptions; orthopedic appliances rendered to or prescribed for an injured person, reports of any medical or dental examination of such injured person, and itemized medical or hospital bills reflecting the amounts charged for such services, prescriptions, or appliances, which are subscribed and sworn to under the penalties of perjury by the physician, dentist, authorized agent of the hospital or health maintenance organization rendering such services, or the pharmacist or retailer of orthopedic appliances, shall be admissible, subject to the court's discretion, as evidence of:

(a)  The reasonable necessity of such services, treatments, or appliances and the fair and reasonable charges for such services;

(b)  The diagnosis and prognosis of the physician or dentist;

(c)  The opinion of such physician or dentist as to the proximate cause of the diagnosed condition; and

(d)  The opinion of such physician, dentist, or medical provider as to disability or incapacity, if any, proximately resulting from the diagnosed condition.

II.  Written notice of the intention to offer such record, report, or bill as evidence, together with a copy of such report or bill, shall be given to the opposing party or parties, or to their attorneys, on or before the date established for disclosure of expert testimony pursuant to RSA 516:29-b or such other time as may be set by the court.

III.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the right of any party to the action or proceeding to summon, at his or her own expense, such physician, dentist, pharmacist, retailer of orthopedic appliances, or agent of such hospital or health maintenance organization, or the records of such physician, dentist, hospital, or health maintenance organization, for the purpose of cross-examination with respect to such record, report, or bill, or to rebut the contents thereof, or for any other purpose, nor to limit the right of any party to the action or proceeding to summon any other person to testify in respect to such record, report, or bill, or for any other purpose.

IV.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to render admissible any facts, opinions, or information that would not be admissible if testified to by a live witness.

V.  This section shall not apply to any action for medical injury as defined in RSA 507-E:1.  Nor shall this section apply to any action to recover for bodily injuries in which the plaintiff claims to have incurred medical expenses in excess of $25,000.

VI.  In this section:

(a)  "Physician" and "dentist" shall include any person who is licensed to practice as such under the laws of the jurisdiction within which such services were rendered, and shall include medical doctors, chiropodists, chiropractors, optometrists, osteopaths, physical therapists, podiatrists, psychologists, and other medical personnel licensed to practice under the laws of the jurisdiction within which services were rendered.

(b)  "Hospital" means any hospital licensed under RSA 151:2, or licensed or regulated by the laws of any other state, or by the laws and regulations of the United States, including hospitals of the Veterans Administration or similar type institutions, whether incorporated or not.

(c)  "Health maintenance organization" means a public or private organization, organized under the laws of any state or the federal government which:

(1)  Provides or otherwise makes available to enrolled participants health care services, including at least the following basic health care services:  usual physician services, hospitalization, laboratory, x-ray, emergency and preventive services, and out-of-area coverage; and

(2)  Is compensated, except for co-payments, for the provision of the basic health care services listed in subparagraph (1) to enrolled participants on a predetermined periodic basis without regard to the date on which health care services are provided; a predetermined periodic basis shall be fixed without regard to the frequency, extent, or kind of health care service actually provided; and

(3)  Provides physician services primarily:

(A)  Directly through physicians who are either employees or partners of such organization;

(B)  Through arrangements with individual physicians or one or more groups of physicians organized in a group practice or individual basis; or

(C)  Through a combination of subparagraphs (A) and (B).

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect January 1, 2020.









AN ACT relative to live medical testimony in courts.



The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant is unable to complete a fiscal note for this bill, as introduced, as it is awaiting information from the Judicial Branch who was originally contacted on January 11, 2019, with follow up on January 24, 2019 for a fiscal note worksheet, which they have not provided as of January 28, 2019.  When completed, the fiscal note will be forwarded to the Senate Clerk's Office.



Judicial Branch