Medical malpractice can be defined as liabilities that arise as the direct result of medical care. In order to establish negligence, Black’s Law Dictionary requires a plaintiff to establish:
- The physician’s duty to the plaintiff
- The applicable standard of care and its violation
- A clear link between the violation of the standard of care and the harm complained of
Expert witnesses can be key in medical malpractice cases. Expert witness testimony can not only help win cases, but also help to evaluate a case’s merits prior to going to trial.
Since there are no universal standards on credentialing medical malpractice expert witnesses, the American Academy of Pediatrics cites that imposing eligibility requirements on medical expert witnesses could help prevent irresponsible testimony.
There have been specialty medical organizations that have set up programs in which a group of peers analyze the content of expert testimonies. The results have been published in scientific journals. This could help bring to light irresponsible testimony and discourage those in the medical community from providing testimony that could be deemed biased or false.
The most aggressive method of improving expert testimony cited by the AAP is the sanctioning of physicians that are deemed to have provided biased, inaccurate, incomplete or unscientific testimony. The AAP’s proposed punishment for irresponsible testimony is that physicians be expelled from membership in various medical organizations.
Certain medical societies have gone as far as to propose that physicians be required to join the local medical society prior to serving as an expert witness, even if they are from out of state. Therefore, they will not be immune to disciplinary action.
However, the AAP advises caution in moving toward any model involving sanctioning. Aggressive expert witness disciplinary programs could easily be viewed by the public as an example of the medical community trying to suppress physicians from telling the truth.
Since there is no credentialing program for medical malpractice expert witnesses, the best option for lawyers seeking a reliable expert is to use an expert witness referral site that properly vets its expert witnesses. That way, lawyers can be put in touch with a reliable and experienced expert witness who can positively impact their case.