Medical Experts, Medical Malpractice, Medical
Medical malpractice is a delicate and serious issue for both physicians, patients, and their families. Therefore, it’s vital to have a Medical Malpractice Expert Witness in your corner in any potential lawsuit.
The job of this expert is to explain in layperson terms the intricacies of medical care. Juries, for instance, will have no great insight and need help to understand the facts of the case.
It is, therefore, vital you choose the right Medical Malpractice Expert Witness.
After all, a jury is entitled to give its own weight to the evidence. Therefore, finding the right expert witness with the correct credentials and credibility is key.
If your medical malpractice suit requires expert evidence, then you should hire an expert before it goes to court.
Some states require an expert to produce an affidavit of merit. This needs to be submitted along with your complaint.
In almost all cases, the defendant will have their own expert witness. Each side then has to disclose the details of their expert witness’s evidence before the trial.
If you have your own attorney, it is usual for them to retain the expert witness for you.
You should note that finding the right expert witness takes substantial time and effort. So it’s a wise move to start looking for an expert as soon as you think you have a claim.
You need to make an early start because the expert should come from the same field of medicine. And they should also be familiar with the situation where the alleged malpractice occurred.
Not every expert witness will currently practice medicine. Often, the expert may be certified in the field of teaching the subject at medical school.
In any case, expert witnesses must have spent a certain amount of time recently practicing or teaching medicine.
So what does a medical expert witness do?
The main reason for retaining a medical expert is to explain to the jury whether the plaintiff has met the standard required to justify a medical malpractice claim.
Their focus typically is to explain how the defendant failed to meet the appropriate level of care. They will also explain how the defendant’s action led to the injury or health damage of the patient.
The expert will provide the context. And next, go through a detailed description of how a competent doctor should have dealt with the situation.
The next step is to clarify where the defendant went wrong in their care of the patient.
The expert will rely on their medical expertise and knowledge. But they will support their insights with industry standards and academic research.
The medical expert may have to address other potential factors contributing to the injury or trauma in describing the situation. This description could shed light on whether the alleged negligence was the main or sole cause.
However, you should note that not all malpractice cases require an expert witness. For instance, when there is little dispute that a surgeon left a foreign object in a patient during surgery.
There are other open-and-shut cases where only a doctor or other medic could have caused the harm. In these instances, it is said the cause is self-evident.
However, it is highly recommended that you always consult an attorney or medical expert when considering a malpractice suit. What may seem apparent to you may not necessarily be the whole picture.
Unless you have an advanced level of medical knowledge, it is better to err on the cautious side and consult a professional.
This holds as an expert witness is normally called upon to testify to the patient’s current health status.
What cases are eligible for a medical malpractice suit?
The short answer is most kinds of healthcare, from emergency room medicine to long-term and psychiatry.
What is deemed malpractice is equally wide-ranging, such as negligence in caring for a patient, the wrong prescription, surgical errors, and omissions.
Omissions can include failing to advise about side effects and other relevant treatment information. Or failure to review medical history before treating a patient.
Also applicable are errors and oversights made by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Under this heading would be things like divulging confidential information, failing to secure sufficiently informed consent, and so on.
Any serious injury or trauma resulting from medical mistreatment is grounds for a lawsuit. And justification for seeking out the help of a medical malpractice expert.
Ultimately, it’s in the interests of the public and the medical profession to have scientifically rigorous and unbiased expert evidence heard in court.
Indeed as health care professionals, there is a duty as patient advocates and citizens to assist in legal proceedings involving alleged malpractice.
In civil cases, expert witnesses are given more latitude as they are asked to express an opinion. This is unlike other witnesses who speak about facts to which they have first-hand knowledge.
In comparison, the expert witness in medical cases, as previously noted, is allowed to discuss how the facts contrast with the appropriate standard of care. They are then asked if the care received was below that which might be regarded as the norm.
This is the fundamental difference between a ‘witness of fact’ and a medical expert witness. The opinion of the medical expert witness is expressed as falling within a reasonable degree of medical likelihood.
In other words, the expert witness gets to say whether the breach of care standards is the most likely cause of the patient’s trauma or injury. They will also explain whether the care received fell within a scale of acceptable treatment.
These insights, along with an interpretation of the medical facts, allow juries to distinguish malpractice from bad things happening that weren’t anyone’s fault.
State and federal rules set the standards imposed on expert witnesses and their testimony on procedures and evidence. While most state laws align with federal legislation, this is not always the case.
What might be admissible in some state courts may not be permitted in a federal court and vice versa.
If you plan to take legal action for medical malpractice, there are four tests your suit must pass.
Firstly, you need to prove the physician had a duty of care to the plaintiff.
Secondly, the lawsuit must establish the applicable standard of care and how it was violated.
Thirdly, the action must also establish the level of damages being sought as compensation for the injury or trauma caused.
And finally, the litigation must show a causal link between the standard of care violation and the harm being complained of in the lawsuit.
Of course, any malpractice action hinges on the standard of care. However, this is open to interpretation.
The level of care is what a ‘reasonably, prudent person’ would carry out in the circumstances.
If the defendant’s actions fall short, then they can be found liable for any damages caused.
Generally speaking, the test applied is whether the defendant’s actions reflected those that would ordinarily apply in the same line of practice and neighborhood.
However, many courts have held that increased specialization in medicine means that standards promoted by national boards carry more weight than geographical differences.
That said, it’s not set in concrete. Adhering to specialty board care standards has its critics. Many courts are now reverting to local conditions to reform access to healthcare and improve health facilities in communities that are rural or otherwise underserved.