Monday, May 23, 2005

Expert witness roundup

Recently I wrote a story about a patient visit to the ER with a stroke and the resulting lawsuit because the ER doc didn't treat with TPA. I was prompted to look into the expert witness subject. A search on Google for "medical malpractice expert witness" resulted in 564,000 hits. I refer you to these:

  • An interesting site describing one physician's interactions with the medicolegal system as a plaintiff, expert reviewer, plaintiff's expert and defendant's expert. I really enjoyed reading this article and that's why it's the first listed.
    Three years later I was called to see a woman in consultation in the hospital. When I saw her and recognized the name, I realized it was the wife of the patient who had sued me. When I called this to her attention she said “Oh, we weren’t suing you, we were suing the insurance company.” I told her it would be difficult for me to have a satisfactory doctor-patient relationship with her and arranged to have another consultant see her. [emphasis added]

  • NJ law bans "retaliating" against expert witnesses

  • Malpractice: Who should judge the experts?
    The FMA's review program was launched a few years ago by its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, spearheaded by Tampa head and neck surgeon Dennis Agliano. Upon a complaint from a member physician, the CEJA's expert witness subcommittee will review expert testimony and take "appropriate" action if it's judged inaccurate or dishonest. "We see it as our duty to expose those doctors who engage in deceit or fraud," says Agliano, now FMA's president, "and nothing could be more fraudulent than false testimony."

  • Why I'm a plaintiffs' expert
    When I was approached about 10 years ago by a representative of our state medical association and asked if I'd be interested in serving as a plaintiffs' expert, I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe that anyone on "the doctors' side" would want to encourage more plaintiffs' experts. After some discussion, however, the reason for his request became clear: If honest practicing physicians aren't willing to review cases for plaintiffs' attorneys, they'll turn to "hired guns" who sell their opinions to the highest bidder.

  • Guidelines for Expert Witness Testimony in Medical Malpractice Litigation
    The interests of the public and the medical profession are best served when scientifically sound and unbiased expert witness testimony is readily available to plaintiffs and defendants in medical negligence suits. As members of the physician community, as patient advocates, and as private citizens, pediatricians have ethical and professional obligations to assist in the administration of justice, particularly in matters concerning potential medical malpractice. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that the adoption of the recommendations outlined in this statement will improve the quality of medical expert witness testimony in such proceedings and thereby increase the probability of achieving equitable outcomes. Strategies to enforce ethical guidelines should be monitored for efficacy before offering policy recommendations on disciplining physicians for providing biased, false, or unscientific medical expert witness testimony.

  • On the hot seat: Physician expert witnesses
    The years when doctors would not testify for plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases because they didn't want to break a code of silence are long gone. Although a physician still may not want to testify against a colleague in his own community for professional reasons, many physicians are willing to step forward to testify in cases where they don't know or work with the physician on trial. They say it's a matter of social responsibility if the facts show that a patient was harmed because of negligence.

  • Expertise in Medical Malpractice Litigation: Special Courts, Screening Panels, and Other Options. This one I found particularly interesting, especially the discussion of specialty courts.
    The third proposed reform considered in this report - for specialized medical liability courts—does not currently exist in any state. A medical liability court system has recently been proposed in Pennsylvania, and the national reform organization Common
    Good supports specialized medical malpractice courts as a way to provide "expert judges ruling on standards of care." In the abstract, a specialized court may seem like a promising way to increase judicial expertise and consistency. An examination of the court proposed for Pennsylvania, however, reveals serious risks of increased politicization, narrowed judicial perspective, and greater costs to litigants.
For those of you interested in honing your expertise as an expert, or who simply want to become more comfortable in deposition, I found this group to be useful.


Adding this one, via GruntDoc. From the Coalition and Center for Ethical Medical Testimony, a Statement of Direction.
The Mission of CCEMT is to make honesty and ethicality the sine qua non of physicians and others engaged in healthcare who serve as expert witnesses, and to eliminate the ability of unethical experts to testify with impunity in medical-legal matters on the assumption or under any law or regulation that makes such testimony privileged or protected from scrutiny by peers.