What Is the ''Similar Locality'' Rule ?

In Purtill v. Hess, 111 Ill. 2d 229, 246, 489 N.E.2d 867, 95 Ill. Dec. 305 (1986), the Illinois Supreme Court recognized that because "there are today relatively uniform standards for the education and licensing of physicians," courts should read the "similar locality" rule broadly. The issue in Purtill was whether a physician's affidavit filed in opposition to the defendant's summary judgment motion demonstrated the affiant's familiarity with the applicable standard of medical care. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 243. In his affidavit, the physician admitted a lack of knowledge regarding the standard of care applicable to physicians in the same community or similar communities in which the defendant practiced medicine. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 244. The trial court struck the affidavit and granted summary judgment in the defendant's favor, and the appellate court affirmed that decision. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 239. On appeal to our Illinois Supreme Court, the plaintiff in Purtill urged the court to reconsider the "similar locality" rule. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 246. Although the court refused to abolish the rule, it reversed the trial and appellate courts, holding that an expert need not be familiar with the standard of medical care in a particular community when a nationally uniform, minimum standard exists and the expert is familiar with that standard. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 247. The Purtill court held that an expert will be qualified to testify as to the standard of care in a medical malpractice case if: (1) the expert is familiar with the standards of care applicable to a reasonably well-qualified physician in the same or similar locality of treatment or; (2) certain nationally uniform, minimum standard exist despite the locality of treatment, and the expert is familiar with those standards. Purtill, 111 Ill. 2d at 246-47.