The issue in this case is whether the failure to attach a supporting affidavit to the complaint in a professional malpractice action is an amendable defect under Rule 15 (a) of the Civil Practice Act. We hold that under the circumstances of this case, it is.
In November 1982, the appellees, the Neases, filed a medical malpractice action in Chatham State Court against the appellants Dr. Buelvas, Orthopedic Center, P.C., and St. Joseph's Hospital, Inc. In June 1987, the Neases dismissed this action without prejudice and refiled in Chatham Superior Court. After appellants moved for summary judgment, the Neases submitted an affidavit from a medical expert. The Neases then dismissed the action again.
The Neases filed the present action in November 1987. The appellants filed motions to dismiss on the grounds that the Neases failed to comply with OCGA 9-11-9.1
. The Neases then amended their complaint and attached the affidavit they had filed in the second case to support their opposition to summary judgment.
The trial court denied the appellants' motions to dismiss and on October 17, 1988 the Court of Appeals affirmed. St. Joseph's Hosp. v. Nease, 189 Ga. App. 239 (375 SE2d 241) (1988)
. We granted certiorari on January 9, 1989.
The appellants argue, first, that the failure to file an affidavit at the time of filing suit for professional malpractice is a nonamendable defect and, second, that the documents filed in this case were insufficient.
(a) In any action for damages alleging professional malpractice, the plaintiff shall be required to file with the complaint an affidavit of an expert competent to testify, which affidavit shall set forth specifically at least one negligent act or omission claimed to exist and the factual basis for each such claim.
(b) The contemporaneous filing requirement of subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to any case in which the period of limitation will expire within ten days of the date of filing and, because of such time constraints, the plaintiff has alleged that an affidavit of an expert could not be prepared. In such cases, the plaintiff shall have 45 days after the filing of the complaint to supplement the pleadings with the affidavit. . . .
Appellants argue that because subsection (b) is the exclusive exception to the filing requirement in subsection 9-11-9.1
(a), the Neases could not amend their complaint under the general amendment statute, OCGA 9-11-15
(a). We disagree.
(b) allows a plaintiff in a professional malpractice action to supplement the complaint with a supporting affidavit when "the period of limitation will expire within ten days of the date of filing and, because of such time constraints, the plaintiff has alleged that an affidavit of an expert could not be prepared." The language of this subsection shows a clear legislative intent to give a plaintiff extra time to secure an affidavit when the statute of limitation is about to expire. 1
(b) The filing requirement of subsection 9-11-9.1
(a) protects professionals from having to defend lawsuits unless they are supported by an expert competent to testify. The real issue in the present case is: If the plaintiff has the affidavit but fails to file it with the complaint, may the plaintiff later amend and file the affidavit under Rule 15?
Under the statute, failure to obtain the affidavit might be a fatal defect. Failure to file it with the complaint is an amendable defect because "Is not the chief object of amendment the correction of mistakes?" Ellison v. Georgia R. Co., 87 Ga. 691
, 718 (13 SE 809
) (1891). 3
2. The appellants also argued that the affidavit was insufficient. We agree with the Court of Appeals that because this issue was not raised in the trial court, it presents nothing for appellate review.
Joseph B. Bergen, Frederick S. Bergen, for appellees.