Admissibility of a Pediatrician’s Opinion In Child Abuse Cases

In State v. Butler, 256 Ga. 448 (349 S.E.2d 684) (1986), our Supreme Court established a very broad view regarding the admissibility of a pediatrician's opinion that a child had actually been abused based on a physical examination and medical history.

In that case, the Supreme Court held:

The expert's opinion that the child had been sexually abused was based on her physical examination of the child as well as on the history related to her by the child.

This opinion was admissible under the rule that medical opinions concerning a patient's physical condition are admissible in evidence even when they are based in part on the physical history elicited from the patient.. . .

There is no question that the expert was competent as an expert -- a pediatrician with expertise in child molestation.

Nor is there any question that her conclusion that the child had been molested was one which the jurors would not ordinarily be able to draw for themselves.

Thus, the expert's opinion was admissible . . . , and the fact that her testimony indirectly, though necessarily, involved the child's credibility does not render it inadmissible. Id. at 449-450.

Subsequent to this decision, the Court followed suit, finding in a number of cases that a pediatrician could opine, based on a physical examination of the victim, that an act of molestation actually occurred, as long as the expert did not also specifically name the defendant as the perpetrator.

See:

     Strickland v. State, 212 Ga. App. 170, 173 (4) (441 S.E.2d 494) (1994);

     Karvonen v. State, 205 Ga. App. 852, 853 (2) (424 S.E.2d 47) (1992);

     Johnson v. State, 186 Ga. App. 77, 78 (366 S.E.2d 409) (1988).